Posted on 23 November 2016
Further to the court case last month where Uber drivers won the right to be acknowledged as workers and not self-employed, another case is about to unfurl.
Deliveroo, who provide a delivery service on behalf of restaurants across the country, classes its riders as self-employed independent contractors. This means that the couriers have no workers’ rights such as paid holiday and the right to the minimum wage.
The food takeaway couriers working for Deliveroo are now taking legal steps in the UK to gain union recognition and workers' rights.
If the couriers win, it could further encourage thousands of those working in the so-called gig economy to seek to unionise and receive rights such as paid leave, especially given the outcome of the Uber case.
The riders working for Deliveroo receive £3.75 per delivery. They do not get paid an hourly fee and consequently if there are no deliveries could be waiting for hours without earning anything!
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), acting on behalf of riders in north London, has asked Deliveroo for recognition for the union to bargain on behalf of the group. Should they gain that right they will negotiate pay and terms and conditions with the Deliveroo Managers. However if they refuse the IWGB may have to go to a tribunal, which will force Deliveroo to consider what they classify their drivers as. According to the laws in the UK those classed as workers and employees qualify for the collective bargaining laws, but independent contractors do not.
The action being taken by IWGB is another, and potentially faster, way of achieving worker status for riders than a full employment tribunal. If it succeeds it could benefit the 8,000 riders working with Deliveroo in the UK.
With the Deliveroo riders taking action there is a further challenge to the ‘gig’ economy. The way people work is changing and the Uber and Deliveroo model does suit some who want to work flexible hours, but there are concerns.
Businesses will have to fully explore their working practices, and how they pay their employees, if they wish to make use of the flexible modes of employment. However the employment rules at present are still somewhat open to misinterpretation.
The Department for Business said it had launched a review of working practices. The government will want to ensure the employment rules are up to date to reflect new ways of working. Hopefully, the pathway will be clearer for both employers and workers going forward to allow a greater flexibility in the way we can all work, whilst ensuring workers are not being exploited.
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