A recent investigation into the employment criteria of the popular restaurant food delivery service Deliveroo revealed there is a shocking clause in the company’s contracts for self employed workers which prevents them from receiving the same employment rights of other employees.
The Guardian is reporting that the company’s cyclist employees are not legally entitled to bring Deliveroo to employment tribunal unless they they pay for all the expenses the company occurs in the process.
The Deliveroo contract reportedly words this rule as follows: “You further warrant that neither you nor anyone acting on your behalf will present any claim in the employment tribunal or any civil court in which it is contended that you are either an employee or a worker.”
Deliveroo wages are also under the microscope as they are considered barely satisfactory as each employee earns just £7 an hour, with an additional £1 for each delivery they make. This barely reaches minimum wage.
Moreover, it appears there are few other benefits available for self-employed Deliveroo workers who are also expected to pay their own national insurance. The business has been very successful since its founding in 2010 and is estimated to have generated around £158 million in revenue thus far.
The legality of making workers pay for tribunal costs has its roots in 2013 alterations that resulted in employees being held responsible for all costs accrued at tribunal should their claim prove unsuccessful. However, many legal professionals are claiming that Deliveroo’s current position is unlawful and is actually just an effort to to intimidate workers and deter them from legal action.
Deliveroo is already experiencing a backlash for these rules. The company has released the following statement: “We provide a platform for people to work with us on a freelance basis. This allows riders to work flexibly around another commitment, like studying or other work. We’ve worked with legal experts to design our contracts to reflect that and we’re proud to be creating opportunities for over 5,000 riders across the UK.”
Deliveroo is not the only service-based company currently being analysed. There has also been much focus on how drivers of the taxi-hailing mobile app Uber are currently locked in a court case against the company in the hope of adding greater employment rights to their contract, such as a standard living wage, sick payments and a pension scheme.
Delivery firm contracts were scrutinised earlier this year when The Guardian investigated Hermes courier service, which was revealed to be paying many of its workers below national minimum wage despite the company’s claim to the contrary.
The Hermes analysis recently became a political affair after Birkenhead MP Frank Field officially requested for Theresa May to launch a review of existing legislation for self-employment contracts so that British workers easily understand the legality of self employment contracts, thus preventing exploitive conduct occurring.
Whether the situation involving Deliveroo and Uber will turn into a investigation like that of Hermes remains to be seen.