Deliveroo's courier contracts fail to deliver, lawyer warns

An employment law specialist has raised concerns over employment contracts signed by self-employed contractors with the online take-away delivery platform Deliveroo.

More than 1,000 couriers in Ireland currently work for the UK company, which operates in more than 200 cities worldwide. They earn roughly €10 an hour.

The company accepts orders through its app and website. Bike, moped, and car drivers, who are classed as self-employed, deliver orders from restaurants to customers.

Richard Grogan of Dublin firm Richard Grogan and Associates reviewed the contract Deliveroo issues to its couriers here.

He said he had concerns about the rate at which part-time couriers, many of whom are students, are registered as self-employed both for tax purposes and for their own protection.

“If they’re not registered as self-employed, and not employees, there’s a range of protections they’re not entitled to, including injury benefit,” said Mr Grogan. “How many people do Revenue have as registered as delivery drivers?

“This impacts the whole system, top down. I’d expect Revenue to challenge their claims of self-employed contractors at some stage, seeing as it gets Deliveroo out of paying PRSI contributions.”

Mr Grogan also said a clause to allow subcontracting, where the contracted courier allows others to work on their behalf, could leave subcontracted workers “ripe for exploitation”.

The right to subcontract is one of the conditions necessary for a worker to be defined as self-employed rather than an employee.

In 2017, Deliveroo won a landmark UK labour court ruling when the Central Arbitration Committee upheld the company’s claims that Deliveroo drivers can be defined as self-employed.

A British union had argued that Deliveroo drivers in Camden and Kentish Town were workers, with rights to minimum wage and sick pay.

No such case has been taken in Ireland.

A Deliveroo spokesman said the responsibility to ensure that any subcontracted workers were legally entitled to work in Ireland, were being paid above minimum wage and were licensed to drive was that of the contracted worker, as was the worker’s tax liability.

“We oblige riders and all other contractors to our business to ensure compliance with these requirements,” he said.

Riders have freedom to reject or accept orders whenever they want, giving them maximum freedom to be their own bosses. Riders are free to, and do use substitutes, who most often tend to be friends and family members.

“Central to our popularity with riders is the flexible nature of the work that we offer, allowing riders to be their own bosses. Riders earn on average over €10 an hour and we are constantly improving the platform based on rider feedback and experiences.”

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