June 18, 2018 / 1:12 PM / a month ago

UK lawmaker to investigate pay and conditions at Deliveroo

LONDON (Reuters) - A British lawmaker who has pushed for more working rights in the gig economy said on Monday he planned to investigate the pay and conditions at takeaway food service Deliveroo, in the latest move against the flexible model touted by such businesses.

FILE PHOTO: A deliveroo worker cycles along a pedestrianised road in Liverpool, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

The issue of whether those working in the gig economy should be classified as self-employed, with few rights, has become increasingly contentious in Britain in recent years.

People operating in the gig economy tend to work for several firms without fixed contracts.

Unions and some lawmakers argue they deserve workers’ rights such as the minimum wage and paid holiday leave, prompting a spate of court cases. Government proposals following a consultation are due later this year.

Deliveroo competes with Uber Eats and Just Eat.

Lawmaker Frank Field, from the opposition Labour Party, will gather evidence from some of Deliveroo’s 15,000 riders over the next five weeks and also put questions to the company, which announced a major expansion plan last week.

“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,” said Field in a statement.

“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.”

The veteran lawmaker is the chairman of parliament’s Work and Pensions select committee which scrutinises government policy on employment. He said he would carry out his new inquiry in a personal capacity however.

Deliveroo said the self-employed status of its riders had been repeatedly confirmed in the courts.

“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.”

Taxi services Uber and Addison Lee have also faced legal action from some of their drivers in Britain.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Kate Holton

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