Workers in the gig economy are missing out on important protections, including the minimum wage, sick pay and holiday pay.
Frank Field, who chairs of the Commons work and pensions committee, said “A group of companies now controls the working lives of an unknown number of people, and yet evades its own responsibilities as employers and taxpayers by labelling those people as self-employed.”
DPD parcel couriers deliver 1.6m parcels a week in Britain. They deliver parcels for the likes of Marks & Spencer, River Island, John Lewis and Amazon. DPD uses about 5,000 couriers in the UK, many of whom are self-employed and are only paid when they work. It made more than £100m in profit in 2015, according to its latest accounts, amid rapidly rising demand for online shopping.
The couriers face being charged £150 a day if they cannot find cover when they are ill. Drivers told the Guardian the contractual threat meant they sometimes forced themselves to work when sick. Earnings lost from missing a day’s deliveries were compounded if couriers could not arrange cover and DPD levied “liquidated damages”. When that happened a courier, who typically earns £200 a day, not only lost their pay but another £150, taking their total loss to £350.