The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) has ruled that motorbike and bicycle riders at online food ordering and delivery organisation Deliveroo are self-employed and are not entitled to be represented by a trade union, receive holiday pay or be paid the national minimum wage.
The case, which was brought by the trade union Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) against RooFoods, the owners of Deliveroo, involved assessing the employment status of riders who work for Deliveroo after the food delivery organisation refused IWGB’s request for recognition to represent riders.
Deliveroo argued that its riders are self-employed contractors rather than limb (b) workers under section 296 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, and are therefore not entitled to collective bargaining rights.
The IWGB were seeking to create a bargaining unit for Deliveroo riders working in the designated Camden and Kentish Town area of London. The trade union claimed that more than 50% of the Camden and Kentish Town-based riders petitioned wanted union representation.
The CAC found that riders at Deliveroo are not workers within the meaning of the 1992 Act, meaning that the IWGB’s application to represent the riders in Camden and Kentish Town is not accepted. However, the CAC also commented that had it ruled in favour of IWGB, the majority of riders concerned would have supported the trade union’s bid for collective bargaining on issues surrounding pay, hours and holiday.
Her Honour Judge Stacey, the panel chair at the CAC, said: “The union has been able to demonstrate considerable and consistent levels of support over the unfortunately long period of this case. […] There are clearly concerns about the precarious nature of the work and the wider debate around the gig economy. From all the information before us, if the riders had been workers within the meaning of [section] 296 of the Act, we would have found that a majority of the riders in the proposed bargaining unit would support the union’s bid for collective bargaining on pay, hours and holiday.
“From the industrial relations expertise of the panel for which we were appointed to the CAC, we infer that the support and membership levels demonstrate an appetite and interest in collective bargaining beyond those who have made themselves visible.
“Accordingly, the decision of the panel is that the union’s application is not accepted since the riders are not workers within the meaning of [section] 296 [Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act], but in all other respects the acceptance tests have been met by the union.”
Dan Warne, managing director for the UK and Ireland at Deliveroo, said: “This is a victory for all riders who have continuously told us that flexibility is what they value most about working with Deliveroo. We welcome the decision of the committee. 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 [organisations] at the same time.
“As set out in our submission to the government’s Taylor Review, we want employment law to be changed so we can provide more security to our riders, such as offering injury pay and sick pay, [while] maintaining the flexibility they value. We want to work with government to update legislation and end the trade off between flexibility and security.”
Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary at the IWGB, added: “Despite the CAC’s finding that a majority of the riders in the bargaining unit would likely support union recognition for the IWGB, it seems that after a series of defeats, finally a so-called gig economy [organisation] has found a way to game the system.
“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.”
Crowley Woodford, employment partner at Ashurst said: “This decision has come hot off the heels of the game changing Uber decision where drivers were found to be workers. In rejecting the current judicial trend, the CAC has decided that the Deliveroo riders are self-employed and therefore not entitled to union recognition. This will be a significant blow to the unions who are trying to expand their membership within the gig economy by challenging the basis on which such employers engage and use their labour.”