Employment law associate, Esyllt Green, shares her thoughts on Deliveroo's announcement that they'll pay employees benefits - if the law changes.
We are told that the Matthew Taylor report on employment practices in the modern economy is imminent. But, in anticipation of learning its findings, one of the key players in the so called “gig economy” claims it is unable to provide its riders with sickness benefits -because of the law as it currently stands.
Deliveroo claims that engaging with its riders on a self-employed basis provides them with the flexibility that they desire: to work when they want to. The company complains that the requirement in law to classify whether those providing services are employees, workers or self-employed, prevents them currently from offering any benefits such as sick pay.
‘Employees’ and ‘workers’ in the UK are entitled to minimum employment benefits such as the national minimum wage or living wage, statutory sick pay, maternity pay, holiday pay and pension rights.
For a modern business such as Deliveroo, keeping its overheads down is key to its success and profitability. Sceptics will say that this declaration by Deliveroo is merely paying lip service to the wider issue of protecting individuals who find themselves working in these new style business models. The relatively new policies to assist individuals of working age, such as the national living wage and pension auto enrolment, were introduced with a specific purpose and getting around them via these modern business models is not acceptable.
We hope that the Matthew Taylor report will be able to provide a balanced review and recommendations going forward on how to achieve the balance for workers requiring flexibility – but also protecting their financial interests and well-being.
The food delivery firm Deliveroo has said it will pay sickness and injury benefits to its 15,000 riders in the UK if the law is changed. In a submission to the government's review of the "on-demand" economy seen by the BBC, the firm says that at present the law prevents it from offering enhanced rights because it classifies its riders as self-employed. Deliveroo says it uses that classification to provide its riders with the flexibility to work when they want. It says employment rules should be changed so that people who work for companies like Deliveroo and Uber can receive enhanced benefits and not lose that flexibility.