A parliamentary select committee hearing about the gig economy has heard evidence from gig employers Uber, Deliveroo, Hermes and Amazon, with Deliveroo managing director Dan Warne attending on behalf of the company.
The committee wanted to consider whether gig employees should be entitled to pensions auto-enrolment, holiday, the minimum wage and sick pay, among other issues.
MP’s raised the issue of a controversial clause in Deliveroo’s courier contracts, preventing couriers from challenging their status at an employment tribunal. Conservative MP Heidi Allen read the clause to the select committee:
“You further warrant that neither you, nor anyone acting on your behalf, will present any claim in an employment tribunal or any civil court in which it is contended you are either an employee or a worker.”
Labour MP Frank Field said: “You actually forbid that before you give them work.”
Warne assured MPs that they would “revise the contract” following the hearing, and claimed that in practice, the company had not sought to prevent workers questioning their status, saying:
“In practice, if they wished to contest their status, they could do so and we wouldn’t challenge them on that.”
He added that Deliveroo was a “comparatively young business” and that it “evolved contracts with our greater understanding of employment law” over time.
“Gig-economy companies are coming under increasing scrutiny about how they treat their workforces. This announcement follows the recent Judgments against Uber, Citysprint and Pimlico Plumbers, whose operatives were held to have Worker status and were therefore entitled to receive holiday pay, sick pay and a number of other employment protections.
“While the clause in Deliveroo’s contracts would certainly have been unenforceable, it would likely have put its couriers – many of whom will have no legal knowledge and some may not speak English as a first language – off from bringing a claim to challenge their employment status.
“Worker status was specifically designed to give basic employment protections to people who are in a sub-ordinate and dependant position with their employers and we can expect more developments in this area in the near future.”