Gig economy contracts ‘unintelligible’ say MPs

Belinda Liversedge
British Safety Council
07 Apr 2017
MPs are investigating the status of workers in the ‘gig economy’. Photograph: iStock/GibsonPictures

A committee of MPs has branded Uber contracts with its drivers “almost unintelligible” and “gibberish” in its enquiry into self-employment and the gig economy.

The Work and Pensions Committee highlighted the problems with clauses of several contracts it had received from companies including Uber, Hermes, Deliveroo and Amazon.

Frank Field MP, chair of the committee, said: “Quite frankly the Uber contract is gibberish. They are well aware that many, if not most, of their drivers speak English as a second language — they recently lost a court case trying to escape TfL’s new English testing rules for private hire drivers – yet their contract is almost unintelligible.”

The issues were raised on 6 April following an evidence session held in the House of Commons. The committee also voiced concern that three of the firms’ contracts (excepting Hermes) required people to agree that they are not workers, and to agree not to challenge their self-employed status in court.

Field said it was an “egregious” clause designed to “put people off” challenging their status, including not going to court, and trying to obtain employment rights that may be due to them.

Matthew Taylor, who is leading the government’s modern employment review, said companies are ‘very good at leading self-employed contractors to think there is a trade-off between flexibility and employment protection’.

“There is no fundamental reason why you cannot both have a flexible form of employment and have worker-based entitlements, so we should recognise that,” he told MPs.

Tim Roache, GMB general secretary commented: “All the forced self-employment contracts being brought to us by members are not just nonsense, they are unlawful.

“These multinational companies make a fortune, but reward their workers with job insecurity and denial of the most basic rights of employment rights, like the right to the minimum wage, holiday pay, and sick pay.”

Uber said it is revising its contracts into plainer English and its contract did not prevent anyone challenging their employment status. Deliveroo also told MPs it was removing the offending clause in its courier contracts.