Deliveroo rider

Deliveroo Win Court Case – Their Riders Are NOT ‘Employees’

In a bitter blow for gig economy workers, the Supreme Court has ruled that riders for Deliveroo do not have an employment relationship with the food giant, and therefore the riders cannot be represented by a trade union.

The case was brought after IWGB tried to negotiate pay and conditions with Deliveroo, but were refused in 2017 as the riders were not legally classed as workers.  It has once again been dismissed by the Supreme Court following a series of appeals from lower courts.

This is primarily because Deliveroo operates a substitution clause, which gives a rider the right to let someone else use their account and carry out the work on their behalf.  Furthermore, Deliveroo does not police decisions to substitute, and riders are not criticised or sanctioned for using substitutes.  However, it is worth noting that Deliveroo may soon be forced to discontinue allowing substitutions due to a government diktat in response to children being substituted to work for the apps.

Additional reasons behind the conclusion that riders are not employees included:

  • that riders do not have their accounts terminated for failing to accept a certain number of orders;
  • that riders could work for another platform at the same time as Deliveroo.

The judgement puts the UK at odds with the majority of courts across Europe, which have tended to find that riders are employees.  In addition, an EU Directive governing platform working has been drafted, the main premise of which assumes that gig workers are employees not self-employed, so the UK’s Supreme Court decision contradicts this position.

Responding to the judgement, the IWGB said they were considering taking the case to an international court:

“The Supreme Court’s ruling comes as a disappointment after years spent fighting a legal battle to secure riders’ bare minimum employment rights. As a union we cannot accept that thousands of riders should be working without key protections like the right to collective bargaining, and we will continue to make that case using all avenues available to us, including considering our options under international law”

A Deliveroo spokesperson was quoted by the BBC stating that the UK had “repeatedly and at every level” found their riders were self-employed.

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