In a significant ruling by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), Deliveroo delivery riders have been classified as self-employed rather than employees.
The decision, which will have significant ramifications for the gig worker sector, was brought as a test case by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
The union had sought to have their Deliveroo members classed as employees, to provide them with worker rights including holiday pay, the National Minimum Wage and pensions contributions.
However, the CAC found the riders were self-employed because of their freedom to “substitute” other riders to take their place on a job.
Recently, drivers at Uber were successful in a similar claim, when the cab company lost its appeal at the Employment Appeal Tribunal against an earlier decision to grant workers’ rights.
Following the CAC’s decision, IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee reacted with disappointment, saying: “It seems that after a series of defeats, finally a so-called gig economy company has found a way to game the system.
“On the basis of a new contract introduced by Deliveroo 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.”
Although Deliveroo issued a statement welcoming the decision, claiming that it was a “victory for all riders who have continuously told us that flexibility is what they value most about working with [us]”, the company says it is now pushing to have employment law changed so it can offer its self-employed riders injury and sick pay.
Lara Murray, an Associate an employment law expert said: “This particular test case may not yet be over as the union could decide to challenge the CAC’s decision by asking for a judicial review.
“Employment laws relating to self-employed ‘gig economy’ workers continue to be tested and are extremely complex. Any company which offers work to individuals on a self-employed basis needs to be aware that the rules are continually changing which is why it is important to seek expert legal advice and regularly review your employment policies.”
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