Gaining from the ‘gig economy’: Deliveroo achieves self-employment ruling

Despite recent counter rulings including the widely debated Uber case, Deliveroo riders have recently been ruled as self-employed by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

Accountancy Live reports that the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) ‘brought a test case relating to a proposed bargaining unit covering the area of Camden and Kentish Town in London, which would allow riders to have collective bargaining rights in relation to issues such as holiday pay, the minimum wage and pensions contributions’.

However, the Central Arbitration Committee have found Deliveroo riders to be self-employed as a result of their freedom to ‘substitute’; allowing other riders to take their place on a job.

IWGB general secretary, Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: ‘On the basis of a new contract introduced by Deliveroo’s army of lawyers just weeks before the tribunal hearing, the CAC decided that because a rider can have a mate do a delivery for them, Deliveroo’s low paid workers are not entitled to basic protections.’

In response to the ruling, Dan Warne, Managing Director for Deliveroo in the UK and Ireland commented: ‘This is a victory for all riders who have continuously told us that flexibility is what they value most about working with Deliveroo. As we have consistently argued, our riders value the flexibility that self-employment provides. Riders enjoy being their own boss – having the freedom to choose when and where they work, and riding with other delivery companies at the same time.’

This decision follows after Uber failed to win its own legal battle that its drivers are self-employed. Uber’s drivers were similarly ‘not entitled to holiday pay, pensions or other workers’ rights’, with the company arguing that ‘its drivers were independent self-employed contractors who could choose where and when they worked’ and enjoyed the flexibility, reported the Guardian.

Despite this, one driver in the case successfully counter-argued that ‘he was employed by the firm, being put under “tremendous pressure” to work long hours and accept jobs and said that there were “repercussions” from the company if he cancelled a pickup. He said some months he earned as little as £5 an hour – far below the £7.20 that employers are obliged to pay workers aged over 25’.

The polar opposite rulings for these extremely similar cases, and the increasing popularity of ‘gig economy’ start-ups reinstates the need for further clarity of employment status in order to ensure the protection of workers.

Citizen’s Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy’s comment relating to the Uber case, still echoes following the Deliveroo ruling: “The fact it takes an employment tribunal to decide whether these drivers are self-employed shows that proving employment status is an extremely complicated and costly process. For many people struggling at the sharp end of insecure work, such as in false self-employment, taking such a case is simply not an option.”


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