In a world that demands services be faster, cheaper and more accessible it is unsurprising that a ‘gig economy’ has developed in which companies like Uber and Deliveroo thrive. Working in an industry that relies on casualized labour offers flexibility and control over your work life balance however it is so important to be aware of your worker’s rights and ensure they are upheld.
What is a ‘gig economy’?
The title gig economy refers to a labour market dominated by freelance work or short-term contracts; this is opposed to a market centred around permanent jobs.
Are Uber drivers and Deliveroo riders self-employed casual workers or permanent employees?
In a recent Employment Tribunal case brought by two Uber drivers the courts decided that Uber drivers are employees and cannot be treated by Uber as being self-employed.
This landmark decisions means that both Uber drivers and Deliveroo riders are entitled to have the same employment rights as other full-time employees in Britain. Such rights include:
– Entitlement to the National Minimum Wage
– Statutory minimum level of holiday pay
– Statutory sick pay
– Protection against unlawful deductions from wages
– Statutory minimum length of rest break
(the full list of employment rights can be found here: Government Employment Status)
Will Uber and Deliveroo give their workers employee rights?
Uber have avidly opposed the Employment Tribunal challenge brought by two of its drivers, stating it is a technology business not a transport business and its drivers are self-employed contractors. By declaring that the drivers are self-employed contractors, they believed the company is not obliged to provide Uber drivers with statutory employment rights.
Despite the court’s ruling proving the contrary, Uber is not abandoning its self-employment argument, and its UK general manager Jo Betram has vowed to appeal the court’s decision.
Uber’s strong opposition to the court’s ruling acts as a barrier to Uber drivers, from accessing the employment rights to which they should be entitled to. Uber are also arguing that the Employment Tribunal judgment is only applicable to the two drivers who brought the original complaint. Unfortunately, until Uber’s Employment Tribunal appeal is heard, Uber drivers will not be able to claim for compensation for being wrongly treated as self employed.
Similarly, Deliveroo has told its riders that efforts by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain to claim employee rights for Deliveroo riders will put their flexible work at risk. A recent dispute has arisen between Deliverro and it’s riders following an announcement by the company in August 2016 that it would be trialling new terms for delivery staff. Changing their hourly rate of £7 with £1 per delivery plus tips, to a rate of £3.75 per delivery and no guaranteed hourly rate. Following this announcement there was a four-day strike, and now two hundred Deliveroo riders are threatening legal action against the company. Intervention by the government confirmed that Deliveroo riders must be paid the national minimum wage of £7.20. However despite this, it is yet to be implemented in practice by Deliveroo.
It has been successfully demonstrated that both Uber drivers and Deliveroo riders are not self employed and should therefore, be entitled to statutory employee rights. However until Uber and Deliveroo have agreed to implemente these employment rights for their Uber drivers and Deliveroo riders, we will see little alteration to their working conditions.
If you need legal advice about your Employment rights you can speak to a Solicitor online on Talk2Solicitors.co.uk to get the legal advice that you need.