HR · 28 March 2017

Deliveroo couriers win legal representation to fight for workplace rights

Around 200 Deliveroo couriers will seek to gain workplace rights such as holiday pay
Around 200 Deliveroo couriers will seek to access workplace rights such as holiday pay

Deliveroo couriers will be the latest gig economy workers to challenge their employment status in court, after a law firm announced it has undertaken legal proceedings against the delivery company.

Leigh Day, the legal firm that won a landmark ruling against taxi app Uber in 2016, will represent around 200 Deliveroo couriers to seek employment rights such as the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay.

As riders are required to wear Deliveroo branded uniforms and subject to performance reviews, lawyers will argue the claim that couriers are self-employed contractors is insufficient.

Successful legal action would see Deliveroo couriers win “substantial” compensation from the food delivery company for “past failures”, according to Leigh Day.

Claims have already been brought to employment dispute body Acas from an initial group of 20 riders.

“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,” said Annie Powell, a Leigh Day lawyer.

Powell added that Deliveroo couriers were “tightly controlled” by the delivery company in what is a “clearly dependent” employment relationship.

“We will argue that Deliveroo has no reasonable grounds to argue that its riders are self-employed contractors and that it should immediately ensure that its riders are paid at least the National Minimum Wage and receive paid holiday.

“We will also argue that Deliveroo’s dismissal of young riders who do not meet Deliveroo’s new minimum age requirement is a clear case of unlawful age discrimination for which the riders should be compensated,” she said in a statement.

Deliveroo released the following statement: “We are proud to offer flexible, well-paid work to over 15,000 self-employed UK riders. We will continue to work closely with our riders to ensure that as the company continues to grow in the UK, our riders continue to benefit from that growth.”

Deliveroo is already facing legal proceedings brought by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain. A group of London-based riders is demanding workplace rights as members of the union.

A recent industry-wide survey found significant diversity in the opinions of gig economy workers. Respondents were split on whether workplace rights should be left in the hands of employers or government. Over a third valued the flexibility of the model and believed competition for workers among businesses would drive up standards.

The Taylor review, expected to be published this summer, was commissioned by prime minister Theresa May to offer solutions to the challenges of modern employment.

Find out why the gig economy will be a compliance nightmare in 2017


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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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