Deliveroo has called on the government to introduce a ‘charter for secure flexible work’ that allows it to provide benefits to its riders without infringing on their self-employed status.
The company, which was valued last year at £1.5b, has asked the government to allow gig economy businesses to be able to offer “accident or third-party liability insurance”, holiday pay and training to self-employed partners.
Deliveroo CEO and founder Will Shu said the proposed charter would “offer riders more security without putting at risk the flexibility they value” and that ending “the trade-off between flexibility and security will help ensure the UK’s on-demand economy is fit for the future and benefits businesses, consumers and riders alike”.
The proposal follows months of legal challenges over the working status of Deliveroo riders – and the obligations the company has to those who deliver its restaurant partners’ food.
The company argues the “flexible nature” of its working model is central to its success, however critics say refusing to acknowledge delivery workers as direct employees provides Deliveroo with fewer legal obligations to riders.
Last November, the Central Arbitration Committee confirmed riders were self-employed, however the decision is set to be challenged in the High Court by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
Responding to the company’s call for the Charter, IWGB Vice President Mags Dewhurst said: “It is no coincidence that Deliveroo makes this statement the same day that Frank Field MP is scheduled to release a damning report on the company’s employment practices.
“In any case, Deliveroo either fails to understand basic employment law or is trying to actively mislead the public.
“As has been established time and time again, under British law there is no trade-off between flexibility and worker rights.
“There is an employment status — ‘limb b workers” — that allows for both and which Deliveroo has gone to great lengths to deny its riders, to the extent that we will now be facing the company in the High Court.”
In June, Deliveroo reached a settlement with 50 riders who argued they had been unlawfully denied rights including the legal minimum wage and paid holiday.
At the time a Deliveroo spokesperson said the pay out made “no impact on Deliveroo riders or our model”, however Annie Powell, a solicitor with Leigh Day who represented the riders, said in her view the “material sum” showed the company “knew that they were very likely to lose at the employment tribunal”.
Responding to the charter, a spokesperson for the Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We want the UK’s employment law to provide clarity for businesses and individuals.
“That is why we have recently consulted, as part of our Good Work plan, on how we can make it easier to understand who is an employee, worker or self-employed and the rights and responsibilities that apply to each.
“The consultation has now concluded and we will be responding in due course.”