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The gig economy.  A Sunday Times investigation alleges that the contractual right to substitute is being abused by Diliveroo and UBER Eats riders and drivers.  In essence it is said that drivers and riders are subletting jobs or their accounts in their entirety to individuals who are not undertaking the work, legally/safely/within tax/insurance/health or other regulation.  Typically, of the gig and sharing economy business models both Deliveroo and UBER Eats’ contracts make the approved individual driver/riders entirely responsible for ensuring that their own substitution is conducted within the law and all appropriate regulation is applied, rather than themselves. How that can be realistically achieved by the average worker and how it can possibly be policed currently is highly questionable.

Why is this important?  Firstly, if it is true, even in part, it is further evidence that both the gig and sharing economy self-regulated model is seriously flawed and will inevitably be abused, unless and until appropriately regulated. To be effective the necessary additional controls should logically be focused towards the relatively small number of, multinational, platforms providers, rather than towards the multitude of individual workers/contractors that use their platforms.  This after all is the general principle applied to labour provision in other more traditional industries within the UK.

Secondly, the contractual right to substitute was recently cited in an employment case as the only remaining reason that drivers and rider were classified as self-employed/contractors and, thus, not employees with associated employment rights.  Proven abuse, particularly involving high profile issue like immigration status, the right to work, unsafe practice or avoidance of income taxes and national insurance could encourage Government to act.  If that action removed the right to substitute or made the platform responsible for it, then the whole issue of employment status and critically employment rights would be opened up again in the delivery sector and, by implication, in other areas of gig economy activity.

See articles article 7 Jan 19 and 6 Aug 18 on our gig economy page for more information:


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