Posted on Nov 15, 2016
It was recently announced that a number of Deliveroo riders are seeking legal action in terms of acquiring trade union recognition and other workers’ rights comes hot on the heels of October’s employment tribunal ruling in Aslam v Uber. The tribunal in the Uber case held that the company’s drivers are “workers” for employment law purposes and not self-employed.
Given the considerable publicity given to the decision, it is hardly surprising that others working in the gig economy would look to test whether they too could benefit from the Uber decision.
While Deliveroo and Uber have different commercial focuses, both have traditionally categorised those who work for them as “independent contractors”. To justify this, both companies argued they merely provided a platform through which individuals could further their own businesses: Uber by identifying taxi customers and Deliveroo by providing fast food delivery customers. For Deliveroo riders, this means they are paid only for deliveries actually completed. This differs from a traditional delivery driver (employed by a company) who is paid for their time spent carrying out deliveries.
From Deliveroo’s perspective, being able to categorise their riders as self-employed represents a significant cost-saving. They do not need to provide riders any annual leave, the statutory minimum wage, the protections of whistleblowing legislation, the right to claim unfair dismissal or trade union recognition rights. With the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain now intervening in an attempt to gain union recognition by Deliveroo, this marks the first serious union attempt to challenge the gig economy following the Uber case. Whether Deliveroo will adhere to the union’s request (or be compelled by an employment tribunal) is yet to be seen. Either way is demonstrates that the tide may be turning against the gig economy and unions will not stand silent as those who are truly “workers” are deprived of the most basic employment rights.
Amy Jones is a Solicitor in our specialist Employment Law team. If you need Employment advice please contact Amy on 01382 229111 or email email@example.com or alternatively contact a member of the Employment Law team.