Gig economy: Giving with one hand and ‘taking away’ with the other?

Published on: 19/05/2017

#Atypical & Flexible Working

Following parliamentary pressure, the takeaway delivery company Deliveroo has removed a controversial clause within its “supplier agreement” that sought to prevent couriers from challenging their self-employed status at an employment tribunal.  

Further changes to the written contract include the company now permitting their couriers to work for others, the removal of the requirement to wear Deliveroo-branded clothing and the removal of notice requirements.

This bears comparison to Uber’s recent introduction of sickness cover to their couriers, offered via participation in a cover scheme for independent professionals and the self-employed at a cost to the courier of £2 per week.

In each case, the companies appear to be making concessions at the same time as asking the individuals to commit themselves, at least on paper, to additional indicators of self-employment.

Not all courier companies are going to such subtle and sustained efforts to hold the line. eCourier, a subsidiary of Royal Mail, admitted last week that at least one category of its same-day couriers had been incorrectly categorised as self-employed and was in fact engaged as a worker entitled to sick pay, holiday pay and a guarantee of the national minimum wage.

It is notable that Deliveroo is changing its contracts shortly before the Central Arbitration Committee hearing at the end of this month to decide whether Deliveroo couriers are entitled to trade union recognition and collective bargaining rights on the basis that they are not self-employed contractors.


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