Deliveroo has called on the Government to overhaul existing employment legislation to allow the company to give its delivery drivers more benefits. Comment from Leon Deakin, Partner at law firm Coffin Mew.
Given the current levels of uncertainty and associated volume of ‘worker or employment status’ claims facing the gig economy, I understand why Deliveroo is raising this issue. A complete review and potential overhaul is long overdue as the business world and modes of working have moved on significantly since the last time we had specific legislation.
Trying to apply the current rules, designed when 9-5 working was the norm, just feels clunky. Broadly speaking, the categories we currently have (employee, worker and self-employed) do give a fairly rounded range of options but a bespoke category for businesses like Deliveroo, with perhaps a variable approach to benefits in return for flexibility in working, could improve things further.
If the Taylor Review produces persuasive evidence that gig economy workers actively choose that form of employment, the case for a wider range of categories would be easier to justify. However, if it is actually because of a lack of choice in the job market and this is deliberately being abused by employers, the better option may be to simply stick with the current groupings and clarify guidance, so that businesses have no excuse and individuals can more easily enforce their rights. We must always bear in mind that we cannot sacrifice the rights of individuals on the altar of progress just because the businesses in this area demand it.