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Deliveroo tribunal victory ‘offers firms route out of self-employment quandary

Legal experts say decision to accept delivery company’s contractual changes may complicate questions of employment status

A tribunal ruling that riders for a popular food delivery business are in practice self-employed has surprised legal experts – and has offered a potential workaround for gig economy firms looking to protect their current business models.

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) ruled yesterday (14 November) that Deliveroo riders are technically self-employed because they are allowed to substitute other riders to take their place on jobs.

Following an Employment Appeal Tribunal finding last week that Uber drivers are workers – and are therefore entitled to employment rights including paid holiday leave and the national minimum wage – the Deliveroo decision had been widely expected to follow the recent trend for rejection of self-employment business models.

But the committee has accepted a recent contractual change from Deliveroo, which allows drivers to substitute other riders if they are unable to make a particular shift. This appears to have helped shift the balance in favour of self-employment, as it gave riders more control over the conditions of their work in the committee’s eyes.

Right to take up to two weeks’ paid leave after the death of a child expected to become law in 2020

Legislation that will provide a statutory right to time off for employees who lose a child has been praised for providing working parents with ‘reassurance’ at a difficult time.

The new law, details of which were published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), will create a right for parents to take two weeks of paid time off in the event of the death of a child under 18.

Employees will have a right to the leave regardless of how long they have worked for an employer and will have a right to pay provided they have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service. Small businesses will be able to recover all of the pay from government while large businesses will be able to reclaim most of it, although the bill does not currently state what rate of pay will apply.

Number of employment contracts with no guaranteed minimum hours drops by a third in two years

The trend for using controversial zero-hours contracts may have “begun to unwind”, experts have suggested, after official figures revealed their usage had dropped by a third since their peak two years ago.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows there were 1.4m employment contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours in use in May, down a third (33 per cent) from a peak of 2.1m in May 2015.

“Coupled with figures we’ve already seen from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) showing a small fall in the number of people who say they’re on zero-hours contracts, it seems possible that the trend towards this type of work has begun to unwind,” said David Freeman, senior ONS labour market statistician.

The LFS found 883,000 people, or 2.8 per cent of all people in employment, had a zero-hours contract role as their main job between April and June 2017, compared with 903,000 people, or 2.9 per cent of all those in employment, between April and June 2016.

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