Deliveroo drivers classed as self-employed and denied worker’s rights

Following on from last week’s Employment Appeal Tribunal decision which ruled that Uber cab drivers were workers and entitled to worker rights, a few days later we have an opposing legal decision affecting the Gig economy.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) applied to the Central Arbitration Committee  (CAC) – a body that resolves workers disputes – for Trade Union recognition for deliveroo drivers in the Camden Town and Kentish Town areas of London.  This is also first test case for such courier riders across the UK.

During the hearing at the CAC it transpired that deliveroo had recently made a series of changes to its contracts, which included removing performance monitoring, the removal of a requirement to wear its branded clothing and crucially allowing  riders to bring someone in to cover their work known as the right of substitution.

The CAC having heard the evidence from both parties determined that these take-away delivery drivers are in-fact self employed contractors on the basis that they had the right to allocate a substitute rider to make the delivery for them.

In its determination the CAC stated that ‘The central and insuperable difficulty for the Union is that we find that the substitution right to be genuine, in the sense that deliveroo have decided in the new contract that riders have the right to substitute themselves both before and after they have accepted a particular job, and we have also heard evidence, that we accepted, of it being operated in practice’.

The IWGB said that the CAC had found that the majority of deliveroo riders were likely to support trade union recognition as a result of this determination and that the company had found a way to ‘game the system’.

This decision also represents a significant blow to trade unions hoping to get a foothold into the Gig economy  via the mechanism of trade union recognition applications to challenge these business practices which deny worker rights.

It is understood that the IWGB is considering its position and whether to take the decision to Judicial Review.

If you have any concerns about your business models and compliance issues relating to worker’s rights then contact Steven Eckett – Head of Employment.

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