A number of cycle couriers are looking to make a claim against Deliveroo following a landmark ruling against Uber last week that could have wider implications for the UK's "gig economy".
Leigh Day solicitors, who successfully brought the case, which led to a UK employment court ruling Uber drivers are employees and therefore entitled to the national living wage and holiday pay, have confirmed they are “exploring bringing a claim on behalf of Deliveroo drivers”, including those who cycle to deliver food from restaurants to customers.
Deliveroo, like Uber, uses drivers whose contracts describe them as self-employed, meaning riders may not be paid the minimum wage, and are not entitled to sick pay, holiday pay or pensions. However, the terms of those contracts, and how they describe the working relationship between rider, company and customer, differ.
Annie Powell, a Solicitor at Leigh Day, told road.cc: “It is very early days, we haven’t issued a claim but we are exploring bringing a claim on behalf of Deliveroo drivers”.
This includes delivery cyclists, though Powell would not say how many were involved.
She said the case, if it is brought, will depend on the facts surrounding the organisation’s business model and contract.
She said: “Deliveroo doesn’t use a matching tool in the same way that Uber does. Uber provides a service and drivers work for Uber to provide that service. There was quite a lot of work to get through [to establish that].
“As far as we’re aware Deliveroo don’t claim that the Deliveroo workers have a contract with customers.”
Deliveroo faced rider strikes earlier this years over trial changes to contracts in North London, which meant riders were no longer guaranteed minimum pay for shifts. Riders were concerned this could result in them earning less than the minimum wage at less busy times of the day.
In ruling against Uber last week Judges said the company was “resorting in its documentation to fictions, twisted language and even brand new terminology” and quoted Hamlet, suggesting Uber’s UK boss was protesting too much about its position.
“The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our minds faintly ridiculous,” the judges said. “Drivers do not and cannot negotiate with passengers … They are offered and accept trips strictly on Uber’s terms.”
Uber argued it was a technology firm and not a transport business. It is appealing the ruling, which could leave the company open to claims from its 40,000 drivers. Experts say other firms with large self-employed workforces could now face scrutiny of their working practices. MPs launched an enquiry last week into pay and working conditions in the UK, specifically those classed as self-employed and agency and casual workers.
Deliveroo was contacted for comment.