Concerns over pay and workers’ rights in Norwich’s ‘gig economy’ spark City Hall probe

A Deliveroo motorbike rider in Norwich. The company last year won the right not to give riders mini

A Deliveroo motorbike rider in Norwich. The company last year won the right not to give riders minimum wage or holiday pay. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Concerns have been raised that there are 'woefully inadequate' rates of pay within what is known as the 'gig economy' in Norwich.

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor.

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor. - Credit: Archant

The gig economy is a form of work where, rather than getting a regular wage, people are paid for 'gigs' they undertake, such as working as couriers to deliver takeaway food.

They are often on short-term contracts or on a freelance basis, rather than permanent jobs.

Supporters say that gives people flexibility when it comes to working hours and benefits employers, who do not have to pay staff costs when services are not needed.

But critics say the workers have no rights to the minimum wage, sick pay or protection against unfair dismissal.

Business secretary Greg Clark. Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Business secretary Greg Clark. Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA


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Last year, Deliveroo, which uses riders to deliver takeaway food, won a test case when it was accepted its riders were self-employed.

The issue got an airing at a meeting of Norwich City Council tonight, where Labour tabled a motion that the authority note their concerns over the 'increasing development' of the city's gig economy.

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They also asked the council's cabinet to commission research into the scale of the gig economy in the city, noting 'woefully inadequate rates of pay'.

Alan Waters, leader of the Labour-controlled council, said: 'We need to dig down to get the details. We will find examples of good employment practices, but lurking in the shadows, will be a lot of poor employment practices.'

He said it would help the council to challenge 'hostility to employment rights and standards of living'.

He added: 'We need to find a way for people to tell their stories and we may have to do that on a confidential basis, with an offer of anonymity.

'But I think it will make a powerful evidence base on which we can build something which provides these people with the security they deserve.

The council, which unanimously backed the motion, will also write to business secretary Greg Clark, urging changes, including equal rights among workers and to ban zero hours contracts.

Mr Waters will also write to Norwich MPs Clive Lewis and Chloe Smith urging them to support that letter.

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