Expert Blog: Deliveroo Employment Status Ruling

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21 Nov 2017

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Deliveroo has won a landmark legal case with a union over its drivers' employment status.

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) ruled that the food delivery app's couriers are self-employed, rather than workers – dismissing a challenge from the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union. During the case Deliveroo argued that if riders were classed as workers, they would lose their current flexibility. This allows them to pick up orders as they wish, and be paid by the delivery, rather than working in shifts. It is a major victory for Deliveroo, which greeted the decision as a victory for riders, and comes just days after Uber lost a key appeal over its drivers' working rights.

Speaking about the key differences between the two cases, Croner Head of Legal Andy Willis, said: “This week Deliveroo riders, who work in a similar way to Uber drivers, have been declared as self-employed because of the specific wording and operation of their contracts around the right to provide a substitute. “However, at the end of last week Uber lost an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal arising out of the landmark finding that its 40,000 drivers are self-employed and not entitled to benefits.

Expert Opinion: Was The Judgement Correct?

After looking at the ruling Croner Litigation Manager Amanda Beattie feels there is a trend in the way that the legal process considers cases of employment status. Amanda said: “This will be a disappointing blow for the IWGB Union, who are likely to have considered that they were going to establish these individuals were workers, particularly given the recent cases such as Uber and Pimlico Plumbers, whereby these individuals were found to be engaged as workers.

“However, I take the view that this case highlights that an individual’s right to substitute themselves for another person to carry out the service provided seems to be one of the fundamental considerations when examining employment status. “Although the case law is clear that there is no one factor which is conclusive when determining employments status, an individual’s right to substitute themselves for another person to carry out the service provided seems to be one of the fundamental considerations when examining their status.

“This is reasonable, given that the statutory definition of a worker, places a requirement that the individual undertakes to ‘personally perform any work or services for another party’. “Therefore, any term to an agreement which is contrary to this would be to support that the individual is in fact self-employed.”

What Does This Mean for Employers?

With more and more firms adopting these working practices within the renowned gig economy, it’s essential for employers to ascertain the employment status of their workforce and ensure that they are receiving the correct entitlements. Download our free employment status factsheet here for guidance, or don’t hesitate to call an employment law advisor on 0844 728 0181.

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