Uber, Deliveroo and Amazon have been condemned by a group of MPs for their “scare clause” contracts and had their employment practises described as nothing short of “bogus self-employed designation”.
Chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, Frank Field, said that these companies were “avoiding all their responsibilities” and added they should be made to justify employees being designated as self-employed. Field also argued that a recent scheme to make Uber drivers pay for their own sickness insurance was “just another way of pushing costs on the workforce.”
PAYE employees have statutory sick-pay and cover as part of their employment package. Furthermore, Field explained that self-employment caused “substantial” tax losses for the government. The contracts used by many of today’s popular courier, retail and taxi firms make it clear that workers are self-employed.
Deliveroo’s contract insists its workers never go to court to challenge their self-employed status. Whilst, Amazon’s flex contract explains that: “Nothing in this agreement will create any worker or employment relationship between you and Amazon. As an independent contractor, you will not be considered as having the status of an employee of Amazon for any purpose, including contractual rights.”
However, some of these independent contractors, who classify as self-employed enjoy the autonomy the role offers. The BBC interviewed Jack Clifford, a student in Bristol, who enjoys the flexibility his “employer” offers. He said: “”I’m well aware that I don’t have the rights of a worker or employee like unfair dismissal and paid leave, but this is a price I’m willing to pay for a working arrangement that fits my lifestyle perfectly.”
Yet Uber driver Omid believes he is being exploited saying “the company uses and abuses its drivers.” Last year, an employment tribunal ruled that Uber drivers were wrongly classified as self-employed – the company is appealing against the ruling. Prime Minister Theresa May added: “If we are to build a country that works for everyone – not just the privileged few – we need to be certain that employment regulation and practices are keeping pace with the changing world of work.”
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