Some self-employed workers should be entitled to the National Minimum Wage, according to the Resolution Foundation.
The idea, submitted by the think tank to the Taylor Review of modern employment practices, has also been endorsed by Lord Adair Turner, former head of he Low Pay Commission and CBI.
According to the Resolution Foundation, around half of the 4.8 million people classified as self-employed are low paid, earning less than £310 a week.
Because they have no chance to set their own wages they should be classified instead as workers, with wage protection, says the think tank.
Conor D’Arcy of the Resolution Foundation, said: "While many [of the self-employed] are higher earners who benefit from significant flexibility, around half fall below the low pay earnings threshold of just £310 a week."
"The government can start by extending minimum wage protections to those self-employed people whose prices are set by a firm.
"This would mean that self-employed people in the gig economy would be given protection against extreme low pay for the first time ever."
Lord Adair Turner told the BBC that certain ’gig economy’ companies have been operating successfully by avoiding paying the minimum wage or employee contributions.
He said: "I think the scale of it is probably sufficient that we should tighten up on that. Essentially we should enforce the minimum wage on those categories of the self-employed who, when when you look at them are essentially employed in the fundamental nature of how their work is organised."