Some 45 Deliveroo riders are heading to an employment tribunal to seek greater workers rights such as minimum wage, holiday and sick pay in the latest gig economy legal battle.
A preliminary hearing will begin on Thursday during which a judge will lay out a timetable for the claims, which have been gathered since the start of the year by Leigh Day, the firm which represented Uber drivers in a similar case last year.
The landmark case involving the ride-hailing firm has sparked further claims involving Addison Lee, City Sprint and Pimlico Plumbers engineers in addition to Deliveroo.
A judge ruled Uber drivers are not self-employed as the tech company had argued, but are employees and entitled to benefits. An appeal of that decision by Uber was heard in September with a decision expected around the end of the year.
Leigh Day solicitor Annie Powell claims riders have no employment protections and some are not guaranteed minimum wage
“We are claiming that these riders are employees of Deliveroo and that Deliveroo is acting unlawfully in denying riders these rights," she said.
“All of the riders we represent in this claim work shifts and are paid by the hour. It is not the case, as Deliveroo has claimed, that they can log in and work whenever they want. Our argument is that these riders are controlled, managed and disciplined by Deliveroo and that they clearly do not carry out their own delivery businesses, as Deliveroo argues," she added.
A spokesperson for the startup said: "Deliveroo offers flexible well-paid work to thousands of riders across the UK. Riders make over £9.50 an hour with us on average, significantly more than the national living wage.
"With over 10,000 applications each week, it’s clear that the flexible working that is inherent to self-employment is hugely popular. The vast majority of riders want to be self-employed as they value flexible working above all else. Should riders be re-classified, the flexibility they value would be lost.
"Deliveroo has been clear that we want to be able to offer riders greater security such as injury pay and sick pay alongside flexible work, but we are currently constrained by the law. That’s why we have called on the Government to update legislation so we can end the trade off between flexibility and security that currently exists in law."
Thursday's private hearing will lay out a timetable for the case to be heard.
The case has also sparked a major investigation into the gig economy. The Taylor review made several recommendations, including an expansion of the "worker" category that would include gig workers as dependent contractors and which would build upon piece rate legislation to ensure minimum wages. It's author Matthew Taylor has warned MPs that imposing existing minimum wage rules would kill the gig economy.