Just Eat to stop using Gig Economy workers

The Gig Economy remains an issue of contention in employment circles, with many expressing concerns that the flexibility it offers can also serve to deny individuals their basic worker rights. In response to this, Just Eat has announced its plans to stop using those who work in the Gig Economy (where individuals are classed as self-employed contractors who are offered, and are paid for, individual jobs as they arise). Its chief executive, Jitse Groen, has expressed his belief that those who make deliveries on his organisation’s behalf may have tougher working conditions.

As many in the Gig Economy are considered self-employed, this means that they are more likely to have minimal protections from unfair treatment at their place of employment. For example, delivery drivers may operate on an organisation’s behalf but will be generally free to set their own hours and have their earnings set to depend on the number of orders they deliver.

Instead of the Gig Economy, Groen has instead committed to taking on employees who are able to receive general workplace protections. He goes on to state that he will consider continuing to use workers from the Gig Economy in countries where it is possible for insurance to ‘make the quality of life of these people a lot better than what it might be now’.

The issue of employment status has continued to rear its head over the past couple of years, with many individuals claiming that they have been falsely labelled as self-employed when the degree of control placed on them by an organisation means they are more likely to be workers or employees. This is the key issue that is currently being considered in the case of Uber v Aslam, which has gone all the way to the Supreme Court and is expecting a judgement later in the year.

In 2019, the European Parliament approved new EU rules that offer protection to workers in this situation, outlining that the aim is to prevent organisations from ‘abusing the flexibility in the labour market.’ The provisions will now require workers to be informed of what a standard working day is, basic description of their duties, starting date, and pay information. Although it remains unclear what the future relationship between UK and EU law will be in light of Brexit, it should be remembered that the UK has reformed the current law surrounding workers in the gig economy, in the form of the Good Work Plan which came into force on 6 April 2020. It ensures that workers are provided a ‘statement of main terms’ from day one.

It remains to be seen how Groen will implement these changes, especially with the Gig Economy being so closely associated with delivery operatives such as those who work for Just Eat. However, with the Uber judgement on the horizon, use of the Gig Economy may be subjected to even further scrutiny going forward, and employers should bear this in mind.

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