LONDON, May 12 (Reuters) - British food courier firm Deliveroo has removed a contract clause which banned its self-employed riders from seeking workers' rights, according to documents seen by Reuters, in the latest victory for unions and politicians cracking down on the "gig economy."
With their distinctive black and teal jackets, Deliveroo riders have become a familiar sight on London streets since the firm started trading in 2013, tapping into the rapidly growing demand for takeaway food delivered from restaurants.
But like taxi app Uber, which also operates in the gig economy where people tend to work simultaneously for different firms without a fixed contract, Deliveroo has been criticised for not offering rights such as holiday and sick pay.
In its new contract, the firm removed a clause which featured in some older agreements and read:
"Neither you nor anyone acting on your behalf will present any claim in the Employment Tribunal or any civil court in which it is contended that you are either an employee or a worker."
The stipulation was criticised by a British parliamentary inquiry last month, which said the contracts used by a series of burgeoning new apps were "unintelligible."
Deliveroo, which said in March it would remove the clause, did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Reuters on Friday.
Despite the clause, it faces an employment tribunal hearing later this month where a union is seeking to represent the firm's riders in an area of London in a push for workers' rights, the latest bid to regulate the sector.
Last year, it started paying riders per delivery rather than per hour, which sparked opposition from some of its riders, forcing it to say they could opt out of the new system, although the trials are continuing in some places.
Deliveroo's new contract has also been cut by nearly half to four pages and removed the need for riders to provide a two-week notice period before quitting the firm.
In an email sent to riders, the firm's UK and Ireland Managing Director Dan Ware also made clear they could work for rivals.
"As an independent contractor you are free to work with whoever you choose and wear whatever kit you want. There continues to be no requirement to wear Deliveroo-branded kit while you work with us," he said.
A previous contract said riders not wearing a Deliveroo-branded T-shirt must wear the firm's jacket and restricted the use of the box fitted to the back of bikes, making it difficult for drivers to accept multiple jobs from different providers. (Editing by Stephen Addison)