Gig economy contracts ‘unintelligible’

Contracts that have been submitted as part of the inquiry into self-employment and the gig economy have now been published by the Work and Pensions Committee.

The Committee concludes that the aim of these clauses seems to be to deter people from questioning their employment status and asserting their rights.

Uber, Hermes, Deliveroo and Amazon were all asked to submit evidence and the following was found:

  • Deliveroo’s contract contained a clause which expressly laid down that the couriers agreed that they were not ‘workers’ and they would not challenge their employment status as ‘self-employed’ in court.
  • Uber’s contract was branded as “unintelligible”. Like Deliveroo, it contained a clause setting out that they cannot dispute their employment status as ‘self-employed’, but it fell short of prohibiting a court challenge.
  • Amazon’s contract had a similar clause to the one found in Uber’s contract.

Interestingly, Uber acknowledges that its contracts need to be plainer English and Deliveroo has said it is committed to omitting this provision in the coming weeks.

Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, was particularly scathing and said: “These companies parade the “flexibility” their model offers to drivers but it seems the only real flexibility is enjoyed by the companies themselves. It does seem a marvelous business model if you can get away with it.”

At Ellis Whittam, our Employment Law Advisers can review your Contracts of Employment to ensure that they are up to date, robust and legally complaint. If you do not have anything in place, we will draft new documents to ensure you comply with your legal obligations, meet best practice and protect your organisation’s best interests.

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