The UK government has issued a statement clarifying the rules around the National Living Wage (NLW) following recent protests by Deliveroo drivers against changes to their pay structure.
The government’s intervention comes after Deliveroo drivers hosted several protests in Central London in response to a trial offered by the company which would reduce their hourly rate to £3.75 during quieter periods.
However, the company has since guaranteed at least £7.50 an hour and petrol for those who continue to participate.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), said: “The government is determined to build an economy that works for all – that includes ensuring everyone gets a decent wage. An individual’s employment status is determined by the reality of the working relationship and not the type of contract they have signed.”
“Individuals cannot opt out of the rights they are owed, nor can an employer decide not to afford individuals those rights. Employers cannot simply opt out of the NLW by defining their staff as self-employed,” they continued.
Deliveroo, which raised an additional $275m from venture capital investors earlier this month, told couriers last week that it was going to trial a new payment structure which would see guaranteed hourly rates replaced by payment per delivery – prompting couriers to say that the changes would lead to uncertainty and lower wages.
The London-based startup has now told its drivers that they could pull out of the trial if they wish to do so and that it would guarantee a minimum hourly rate during peak times for those who wish to continue participating in the trial.
UK managing director Dan Warne, said: “We’re committed to having an open conversation with riders about this trial. We’ve reached out to every rider involved to gather feedback.
“We’ve listened to their concerns and offered every rider the choice to withdraw from the trial. For those that choose to take part in the trial we’ll also be guaranteeing fees at peak times for riders will be at least £7.50 per hour plus tips and petrol costs,” he concluded.