Deliveroo tells ITV News: Majority of our riders are happy

It's lunchtime in Brighton and Kevin has a "drop".

Deliveroo pays him £4 per delivery and he's on a "commission only" contract, so there's a strong incentive to work hard.

The problem Kevin has is that during the one hour we spent with him, he only had the one order.

The Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union says Kevin's experience is common in Brighton, and it is busy signing up Deliveroo's riders.

The IWGB says Deliveroo now has more riders on the streets there than deliveries to sustain them and, as a result, most riders are earning less than the National Living Wage of £7.20 per hour.

Deliveroo says the average rider in Brighton earns £9.89 per hour, but the IWGB is threatening the company with strike action unless it raises the commission it pays and freezes recruitment.

"Restaurant food delivered to your door in 35 minutes" - that's what Deliveroo promises. The company doesn't cook and doesn't deliver it, but it has developed a website and a smartphone app which connects people who do.

Deliveroo isn't obliged to pay its delivery riders the national minimum wage because it says they work for themselves.

The company insist its riders are self-employed and that they want to be, as they value being free to work where and when they want.

But when ITV News went undercover in London with Deliveroo our rider found that his choice over the hours he worked was limited.

Deliveroo told him he had to work at least two of the three busiest evenings - on Friday, Saturday or Sunday - and in areas of the city that the company selected. He also had to wear the company's branding.

The MP Frank Field sees this as further proof that Deliveroo's riders aren't self-employed at all, but work for the company and should therefore have greater employment rights.

Deliveroo has come from nowhere.

The business was started in London four years ago by an American, William Shu, it now operates in 90 British towns and cities has launched in 11 other countries, including Australia, France and Germany.

Deliveroo sees itself as that rare thing: a British tech company that has become a global success story.

But with clever innovation and the undoubted success has come intense scrutiny and allegations that Deliveroo is abusing the tax system and exploiting riders.

Dan Warne, Deliveroo's UK MD, told ITV News the average rider works thirteen hours a week and earns more than £11 per hour.

"That's well in excess of the National Living Wage," he told me. "We're very proud to be able to attract 10,000 riders a week who want to work for us".

Deliveroo insists its riders are self-employed Credit: ITV News

I asked him why the company wouldn't guarantee riders the National Living Wage.

Warne explained that Deliveroo couldn't do so and continue to offer riders the flexibility they enjoy.

Further, an independent poll by Gallop found that the vast majority of riders are happy working with the company.

The self-employed status of Deliveroo's riders appears to be key to the company's business model. The contracts riders have to sign states they are a "self-employed supplier," while clause 2.2 of the same contract states that neither the rider nor anyone else can argue otherwise in court.

"You further warrant that 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" - clause 2.2, Deliveroo rider contract.

Contracts forbid workers from describing themselves as employees Credit: ITV News

Deliveroo says this clause has existed ever since the company started four years ago.

Last October a group of taxi drivers took Uber to an employment tribunal and won. They successfully argued they were "workers" not "self-employed" as Uber claimed.

In theory they are now entitled to holiday pay and the national living wage, although Uber is appealing.

It's not clear if clause 2.2 would prevent Deliveroo riders from bringing a similar claim but the company appears prepared for a legal challenge in the months ahead.