18 June 2018
‘Gig’ employer Deliveroo is coming under increasing pressure to reform its business model, as MP Frank Field launches an inquiry into workers’ rights at the company.
Over the next five weeks, Field and his colleague Andrew Forsey will gather evidence from couriers working for the firm as to their pay and conditions, as well as questioning the company itself.
Deliveroo hires cycle and motorbike couriers across the UK, which it says are independent contractors. However, the legal employment status of the riders is being challenged by the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IGWB) union, as well as by legal firm Leigh Day.
Last week, a High Court judge ruled in favour of the IWGB’s request for a judicial review into an earlier decision by the Central Arbitration Committee that Deliveroo riders cannot create a collective bargaining unit because they are independent contractors rather than ‘workers’. The judge agreed with the union that having access to collective bargaining is a human right that should apply to ‘gig’ economy workers.
Frank Field is Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee and has led several inquiries into the gig economy over the last two years, including producing reports based on the testimonies of hundreds of people working for Hermes, Uber, DPD and Parcelforce.
“The weight of evidence I’ve seen shows that bogus self-employment is being peddled by those who benefit so handsomely from the gig economy, to avoid the obligations they have to their workforce,” he said.
“I now wish to see if this is a partial view or whether it, sadly, represents what is going on in yet another company operating in the gig economy.”
Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the IWGB, which will hold a roundtable with Deliveroo couriers as part of the inquiry, added: “I’m familiar with how Deliveroo justifies its actions in legalese, but I do look forward to seeing how they justify depriving riders of fundamental human rights in their evidence to Frank Field MP.”