Deliveroo has become the first major company in the so-called gig economy to offer benefits such as sick pay, as long as the law allows its riders to maintain their flexible working status.
In a submission to a Government review, due to report next week, the company’s founder argues the rules need to keep pace with the evolving on-demand sector.
Currently, riders do not receive benefits such as sick pay and insurance as they are classed as self-employed.
Changing their employment status would give them benefits but would rob them, Deliveroo argues, of the right to work flexibly and for other companies.
Chief executive Will Shu said: “When I founded Deliveroo four years ago, I was the only rider delivering to customers all over London.
“I still do deliveries every week so I know better than anyone the hard work that Deliveroo riders put in every day. It’s only right that they’re given the security they deserve whilst keeping the flexibility that they value.
“The on-demand economy has changed the way people work and live. We want an environment in which both workers and businesses benefit from the opportunities these changes provide.”
The rights of workers and responsibilities of gig economy firms are the main focus of the review, ordered a year ago, being led by the head of the Royal Society of Arts Matthew Taylor, a former policy chief for Tony Blair.
Critics have accused Deliveroo and rivals such as Uber of shirking financial and social responsibilities as employers.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This reads like special pleading.
“There’s nothing stopping Deliveroo from paying their workforce the minimum wage and guaranteeing them basic rights like holiday and sick pay.
“Plenty of employers are able to provide genuine flexibility and security for their workforce. Deliveroo have no excuse for not following suit.
“The company’s reluctance to offer benefits now is because they want to dodge wider employment and tax obligations by labelling staff as self-employed.”
Mr Taylor’s review is expected to be published next week.