Deliveroo presented with ‘map and compass’ to help lead the reform of gig economy work
25 July 2018
A report by MP Frank Field on Deliveroo recommends that the company should guarantee hourly pay rates of no less than the National Living Wage for all the time that people are logged in and available for work.
The report also recommends that in order to counter the cat and mouse game of individuals having to take companies to employment tribunals, employment law should be reformed so that it is companies who have to prove beyond doubt they meet certain criteria showing their workforce to be self-employed.
Over the past two years, Frank and his colleague Andrew Forsey have published a series of reports based on hundreds of testimonies from people who work with Hermes, Uber, DPD and Parcelforce. The reports have shone a bright light on the extent of low pay, exploitation, and bogus self-employment afflicting all too many workers at the bottom of the labour market.
Last month Frank Field MP launched another inquiry into pay, working conditions and basic rights at Deliveroo. The findings from this inquiry have just been published and present Deliveroo with a map and compass to help achieve its stated objective of striking a more just balance between flexibility and security for riders working with the company
This latest report finds that:
- Deliveroo’s workforce resembles a dual labour market which works well for some individuals and very poorly for others
- Some Deliveroo riders earn as little as £2 or £3 an hour. Others, in even more extreme circumstances, earn nothing at all at certain times while those at the other end of the scale sometimes reach £20 an hour
- Across the online food delivery sector of the ‘gig economy’ as a whole, around 158,000 individuals report being paid less than the National Living Wage
- Parts of Deliveroo’s current employment model resemble the system of casual labour that existed in Britain’s docks and ports a century ago, with individuals taking on a series of risks without necessarily being rewarded adequately for doing so
In seeking to help Deliveroo change radically the nature of work in the gig economy, so that individuals can gain additional security without necessarily sacrificing any flexibility, the report recommends that:
- Those people requiring greater stability and certainty in their work should be able to look to their firm to offer this prospect after they have built up a record over a certain period of time. Deliveroo should commit itself to offer a form of worker status to those riders who form the backbone of its workforce.
- Workers who prize flexibility and only wish to work a smaller number of hours to suit their own needs, or wrap around other jobs, should be able to continue embracing the current model which enables Deliveroo to expand and contract its workforce when needed. However, the company should guarantee hourly pay rates of no less than the National Living Wage for all the time that people are logged in and available for work.
With a view to effecting a reform programme across the gig economy as a whole, the report recommends that:
- The Director of Labour Market Enforcement should conduct deep dives into those sectors offering platform jobs, and report on both levels of pay for different groups of workers as well as the reality of the self-employed status and the validity of each firm’s defence of that status, such as workers being able to substitute somebody else’s labour for their own and remain on the company’s books.
- The fines imposed by those agencies acting on behalf of the Director of Labour Market Enforcement should be ploughed back into building up a common workforce which, over time, takes on in a more proactive way the task of protecting workers’ rights in the modern economy. This would entail an increasing number of both random checks as well as deep dive exercises in those sectors known to compel flexibility on a workforce in a way that enables companies to evade the National Living Wage.
- To counter the cat and mouse game of individuals having to take companies to employment tribunals, employment law should be reformed so that it is companies who have to prove beyond doubt they meet certain criteria showing their workforce to be self-employed.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Frank says:
“The self-employed status and part-time nature of much gig economy work have given the labour market a flexibility that is still relatively new. Some of those workers who are keen to seize this opportunity view it as a short-term option while they develop their longer-term earning power – setting up their own business, starting on an artistic career and the like.
‘But for an unknown number of workers these imposed self-employment opportunities are all, there is on offer even though their need is for stable work for at least the level of the National Living Wage. It is this group that we are concerned about in this report and have been in each previous report we have published on the gig economy. The reform programme we outline will, I hope, be picked up by Deliveroo and the Government as a means of both protecting this group while preserving the flexibility that so many riders have said they value.”