UK Supreme Court rules Deliveroo riders are not workers

Supreme Court DeliverooThe UK Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that Deliveroo riders do not have the right to be classed as workers and cannot unionise following a seven-year legal battle.

In the case of The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain v Central Arbitration Committee and another, Deliveroo riders have been seeking to become recognised as workers and thus have the ability to unionise. The High Court and Court of Appeal previously denied this on the basis that they were considered self-employed.

Lord Lloyd Jones, Lady Rose and the other judges stated that confirmation that rights to bargain collectively under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights only apply to those in an employment relationship with a work provider. Their evidence for this was the fact that riders do not have to carry out deliveries at all, the absence of any specific hours, and the absence of any requirement for riders to be available at any time, among other factors.

As a result of this ruling, Deliveroo riders cannot proceed with an application for recognition of their trade union.

Deliveroo was advised throughout the case and its various appeal stages going back to the original ruling in 2017 by law firm Lewis Silkin.

Colin Leckey, Lewis Silkin’s relationship partner for Deliveroo, said: “We are very pleased to have helped secure this victory for Deliveroo, which brings to a conclusion seven years of litigation in which our client has succeeded at every stage. The Supreme Court decision provides welcome certainty for platform economy companies with highly flexible operating models in which individuals have genuine freedom about whether and when to work. The question of whether such persons are workers under domestic law had long since been resolved in Deliveroo’s favour, and now arguments based on human rights law have been finally decided for the company as well.”

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Rob Smedley, employment lawyer at Freeths, added: “The Supreme Court has held firm on the current approach to worker status and the need for personal service as the key ingredient. A right of substitution alongside evidence of it actually happening in practice remains the main obstacle to those trying to secure additional rights.”

Deliveroo has been contacted for comment.