Deliveroo calls for new gig worker status

Brighton Pictures/REX/Shutterstock
Brighton Pictures/REX/Shutterstock

Food delivery company Deliveroo has announced plans to offer its self-employed couriers sick pay as it calls on the Government to change the law surrounding worker status in the gig economy.

In its submission to the Matthew Taylor review on modern employment practices, the company asks the Government to update legislation to give self-employed people greater security, while maintaining flexibility.

Deliveroo CEO and founder Will Shu said: “It’s only right that [riders] are given the security they deserve whilst keeping the flexibility that they value.

“The on-demand economy has changed the way people work and live. We want an environment in which both workers and businesses benefit from the opportunities these changes provide.

“We welcome the Taylor review and the opportunity to work with Government to create legislation which suits the needs of a 21st century workforce in a 21st century economy.”

Deliveroo has said it wants to offer its riders benefits, such as sick pay and insurance. It would also like to offer “exceptional” riders shares in the company.

It argues that current employment law prevents it from extending some of the entitlements that are open to “workers” without calling into question the status of its riders, who are self-employed.

Its riders can “log in and log off at will”, and are paid according to work completed, not the hours worked.

It argues that if its riders were classified as workers, they would have to work compulsory shifts working exclusively for Deliveroo.

Deliveroo’s submission to the Taylor review, which is expected to be published next week, suggests two ways in which employment law could be modernised:

  • Allow additional rights to the self-employed that enable companies to offer benefits and provide greater security, without altering the flexible nature of work; or
  • Create a new category of employment, allowing companies to calculate entitlements based on services delivered rather than hours worked. Riders would still be their own boss, whilst the relationship between riders and an on-demand business would retain its flexibility.

Phillip Pepper, employment partner at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, said: “Deliveroo’s call for a change is likely to be well-received within the industry, but it may have come too late in the game.

“Legislation is often slow to react to changing ways of working and with the Taylor review on modern employment practices due to be published any time now, it seems unlikely that its findings will reflect these calls.

“Regardless of the outcome, it seems that the ‘gig economy’ is here to stay and UK employment legislation must, at some point in the future, get up to speed with modern times.”

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