The chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Frank Field MP, has launched an inquiry into the working conditions and human rights of Deliveroo’s drivers.
The High Court granted Field permission to proceed with judicial review on “limited grounds” on 18 June. He and parliamentary researcher Andrew Forsey have published a series of testimony-based reports from people who work at courier firms Uber, Hermes, DPD and Parcelforce.
The reports have highlighted problems of low pay and exploitation within the ‘gig economy’ sector. This latest inquiry will gather evidence from Deliveroo riders over the next five weeks in an attempt to supplement the evidence base on the living standards of workers as well as the need for any additional safeguards.
It will include a roundtable, organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), at which Deliveroo riders can present oral evidence.
Field will also be writing to Deliveroo with a series of questions on riders’ pay and conditions. He said: “The weight of the evidence I’ve seen shows that bogus self-employment is being peddled by those who benefit so handsomely from the gig economy, to avoid the obligations they have to their workforce.
“I now wish to see if this is a partial view or whether it, sadly, represents what is going on in yet another company operating in the gig economy.”
Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of IWGB, added: “Following on from last week’s High Court decision that our workers’ and human rights case against Deliveroo can proceed for judicial review, today’s announcement is another important step in achieving justice for low paid Deliveroo riders.
“I’m familiar with how Deliveroo justifies its actions in legalese, but I do look forward to seeing how they justify depriving riders of fundamental human rights in their evidence to Frank Field MP.”
A Deliveroo spokesperson told Catering Today: “Deliveroo offers riders flexible, well-paid work because this is what we know they want. Riders value having the freedom to choose when, where and whether to work, and this flexibility is only available through self-employment.
“The self-employed status of Deliveroo riders has been repeatedly confirmed in the courts.
“Deliveroo would be happy to contribute to a balanced enquiry which acknowledges the benefits of self-employment, and which takes forward our calls on policy-makers to end the trade-off between flexibility and security that currently exists in employment law, so we can continue to improve our offer to riders.”