For the hospitality industry a flexible workforce is an efficient way of meeting peaks and troughs in demand. Individuals, who work flexible shifts, can address variations in staffing requirements. But the question as to whether a worker in the ‘gig economy’ is actually self-employed is an important one, as it affects entitlement to certain benefits.

There have been a series of cases against Hermes, Uber, Citysprint and others which have ruled that gig economy drivers and couriers have “worker” status and are therefore entitled to paid holiday, the National Minimum Wage and pension contributions.

In November the Central Arbitration Committee ruled that Deliveroo riders were self-employed rather than workers. One factor which the tribunal looked at was a clause in the riders’ contract which allowed them to substitute other riders and “get a mate to do their delivery”.  On the facts of this particular case a rider had sufficient control over their work to make them self-employed.

However, more recently Deliveroo reached an out of Court settlement with 45 couriers paying them over £1million.

Where does this leave us?

This settlement underlines continued tensions over the treatment of so-called gig economy workers. What has come out of recent cases is:

  • Each case must be looked at on its own facts.
  • It is necessary to analyse not only the contractual documentation but, more importantly, what is actually happening on the ground when determining employment status.

Employment status has long been a cloudy area of employment law and the advent of the gig economy has added to the confusion. For a summary of the position see our previous article  

A Flexible Workforce – knowing where you stand over employee status.

The need for clarity for workers is clear however, the Government has as yet not committed to anything concrete to improve workers rights. This is despite the recommendations of the Taylor Review that legislation should clearly define employment status and introduce ‘dependent contractor’ status as well providing for all gig economy workers to receive the National Minimum Wage.  We will continue to update you on this issue.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.