29 March 2017
Following a string of successful cases in which gig economy workers have been found to be misclassified as “self employed” and therefore entitled to workers’ rights, 200 Deliveroo riders are set to take the delivery company to task about their employment status.
Legal firm Leigh Day, which also represented Uber drivers in their successful case last year, will bring the new claim. The lawyers explained that Deliveroo riders, who are contracted to deliver food and drink from restaurants to customers, are recruited by the company through the means of an interview, trial shift, and online tests. Whilst on the job, they must wear the firm’s branded uniforms and use a branded delivery box. They are also subject to performance reviews, are told how and where they will work, and must acquiesce to terms and rates of pay that are determined by the company.
Despite this, Deliveroo claims that each rider is a self-employed person running a micro-business of which Deliveroo is a customer.
It wasn’t until Managing Director of the Deliveroo Dan Warne was pulled in front of MPs as part of a parliamentary inquiry into the gig economy this January that the firm agreed to remove an illegal clause inserted into its contracts with riders, which stated that they cannot take the company to employment tribunal in order to contest their employment status.
It seems Deliveroo had predicted what was to come, as the clause was inserted not long before drivers won their case against Uber, and couriers were successful at tribunals against City Sprint and Excel.
In these previous tribunal decisions, it has been found that people were misclassified as “self employed” when they are legally entitled to the rights of “workers” on the basis that the firms involved were retaining managerial control (such as determining where and how workers will work and how much they will be paid).
This principle has been echoed by Matthew Taylor, Chair of the government’s review into the gig economy and employment rights, who said he will provide evidence in his final report – due for publication in June – that companies are deliberately misclassifying their workers as “self employed” in order to avoid workers’ rights.
The rights that Deliveroo riders are missing out on include the National Minimum Wage, holiday pay, sick pay and rest breaks.
Annie Powell, employment lawyer at Leigh Day, said: “The idea that Deliveroo riders are self-employed contractors in business on their own account and that Deliveroo is a customer of each rider’s business is absurd.
“Deliveroo riders carry out the sole function of Deliveroo – to deliver food and drink from restaurants to customers – and are tightly controlled by Deliveroo in what is clearly a dependent work relationship.”
Leigh Day will also bring an additional claim of age discrimination for Deliveroo riders aged under 18, who were summarily dismissed by the company after it brought in a new minimum age requirement for its riders.
There is still time for Deliveroo riders not involved with the claim to register their interest with Leigh Day. Click here to find out more.