TRADE unions told food delivery firm Deliveroo yesterday that it is using the law as a bogus excuse to not offer its workers security of pay and benefits.
A fresh row over so-called gig economy workers was sparked after Deliveroo bosses claimed that legislation would need updating before it could give them greater security while maintaining flexibility over shifts.
Current employment laws prevent companies from extending some of the entitlements that are open to “workers” without calling into question the status of deliverers that are classed as “self-employed,” Deliveroo said.
But unions said that there was nothing stopping the firm from paying its workforce the minimum wage and guaranteeing them basic rights such as holiday and sick pay.
Jason Moyer-Lee of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) union said: “Deliveroo’s claim that unfortunately the law prevents them from giving employment rights and benefits is utter hypocritical nonsense.
“In case after case, the law has come down on the side of workers in the gig economy. There is nothing to suggest, either logically or legally, that flexibility and employment rights are mutually exclusive.”
IWGB has supported the Deliveroo workforce in disputes over pay and terms and conditions.
Giving evidence to a review by former Tony Blair aide Matthew Taylor into the gig economy, Deliveroo said extending entitlements under the current law would undermine the flexibility that comes with its workforce being able to get paid according to completed deliveries rather than hours of work.
Mr Taylor’s review is expected to be published next week.
If the workforce was reclassified, each person would be required to work in compulsory sessions arranged with Deliveroo in advance and to work exclusively for the company during those sessions, the company claimed.
Deliveroo said it wanted a change in employment law to allow it to offer sick pay, insurance, or shares for long-standing riders.
GMB union legal director Maria Ludkin said: “The only people who think the law is out of date are the companies like Deliveroo, who are trying to subvert the law and exploit workers.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This reads like special pleading. Plenty of employers are able to provide genuine flexibility and security for their workforce. Deliveroo have no excuse for not following suit.
“The company’s reluctance to offer benefits now is because they want to dodge wider employment and tax obligations by labelling staff as self-employed.”