The linguistic backflips used by Deliveroo to pretend its employees are independent contractors

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Deliveroo is a "gig economy" company that hires people to cycle around big cities, delivering meals, while pretending that all their riders are actually "independent contractors" running their own businesses through which they subcontract to Deliveroo, thus dodging any need to pay benefits or comply with basic labor, health and safety rules.

A leaked document (revealed in this paywalled FT article) instructs Deliveroo’s small pool of paid employees on the tortured linguistic contortions they must go to in order to preserve the illusion of independent contractor status — they aren’t allowed to say things like "Yesterday you were late to start your shift" and instead must say "Yesterday you logged in later than you agreed to be available."

Other examples: don’t say, "Please attend a disciplinary meeting so we can review your performance and issue you with a final warning"; rather say, "Please suggest a time when you are available to discuss your Service Delivery Standards as part of a Supplier Agreement Review."

The six pages of do’s and don’ts are meant to serve as a template for how staff should speak to and about its couriers (though it prefers to call them “independent suppliers”). For example, they want to avoid saying “We pay you every two weeks”, preferring the more obtuse passive phrase, “Rider invoices are processed fortnightly.”

Startups in the gig economy will go to great lengths to avoid calling their employees employees [Neha Thirani Bagri/Quartz]

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