Deliveroo has compensated fifty of its couriers to settle legal action arguing that they should be treated as workers and not self-employed contractors.
Deliveroo settled the case after the High Court ruled that a union was allowed to pursue a collective bargaining case with the company. Lawyers representing the couriers have taken this as evidence that Deliveroo think they would have lost the case if it went to the Employment Tribunal.
The couriers had to work with numerous conditions, including needing to be available to work at least two weekend shifts a week, having to get permission to arrange cover for shifts, disciplinary processes for poor attendance, performance monitoring and one-to-one meetings with managers.
What is a worker?
Defining working status is a sensitive topic at the moment, with employer practices in the gig economy being challenge, alongside off-payroll working rules for contractors being under review.
The high-profile cases against Deliveroo, Uber and Pimlico Plumbers, including a Parliamentary inquiry into Deliveroo, are defining serious issues with employment rights in the gig economy. These include situations where people are working with restrictions that apply to contracted workers, whilst not receiving the associated benefits.
As well as protecting the rights of individuals, the distinction between worker and contractor has a significant impact on how much tax employers pay and how they pay it, and how businesses manage their employees.
With more possible claims against Deliveroo, and the inquiry underway, this could lead to significant changes in the company’s employment practice. The message for other employers is clear: the obligations of employment must be matched with employment rights.
If you are unsure of your own responsibilities as an employer, or are self employed and have questions around your status, please talk to one of our team on 01202 875 900.