HR · 12 May 2017

New Deliveroo contract seeks to rebalance courier flexibility

Deliveroo contract
The new Deliveroo contract allows riders to take work from other companies

A Deliveroo contract clause preventing workers from taking the courier to employment tribunal has been scrapped, following pressure from MPs.

The “supplier agreement”, effectively banning Deliveroo’s 15,000 self-employed couriers from contesting their employment status, was recently deemed “legally unenforceable” by the parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee.

In a review of employment practices in the so-called “gig economy”, the cross-party report described the benefits of flexibility championed by firms like Uber and Deliveroo as “a fiction”, while workers were entitled to full workplace rights.

Labour Party MP Frank Field, head of the committee, said it was time policy makers tackled the “bogus” model of self-employment promoted by firms like Deliveroo and Uber.

Now, a rewrite of the Deliveroo contract relaxed rules stopping riders from taking on other work, while also removing the requirement to wear Deliveroo-branded uniform.

In a letter circulated to couriers on Thursday 11 May, Dan Warne, Deliveroo UK managing director, explained the revised four-page Deliveroo contract “makes clear that our riders are able to log in to work with us whenever they want – allowing them to fit their work around their life rather than their life around their work”.

Clarifiying the new terms, Warne said couriers were free to work for other companies alongside Deliveroo, but maintained the status of “independent contractor” was accurate for the work.

“We know that many riders work with other companies as well as Deliveroo, including our competitors. That is fine with us: as an independent contractor you are free to work with whoever you choose and wear whatever kit you want,” he added.

The decision arrived before Deliveroo faces the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) this month. If the tribunal considers Deliveroo couriers full-time employees and not independent contractors, then workers could be entitled to statutory workplace benefits.

Ahead of the case, Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), said “the chickens were finally coming home to roost”.

“For years employers in the so-called gig economy have been able to get away with unlawfully depriving their workers of employment rights to which they are legally entitled,” Moyer-Lee said in a statement.

The recently leaked Labour manifesto outlined the party’s commitment to challenging the business model used by gig economy businesses. Labour made clear it wanted to put the “burden of proof” regarding employment status onto companies.

Read our mini-series covering all aspects the gig economy

  1. The status of gig economy workers
  2. Looking to the future
  3. An international perspective

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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