A win for the ‘Gig economy?’- UK Supreme court rules Deliveroo Riders are not employees

22 November 2023

After 7 years of litigation, the ruling is clear. Deliveroo riders cannot be recognised as employees with five judges claiming the contracts between riders and the company did not constitute an “employment relationship” because riders were able to use another person to cover their deliveries without Deliveroo’s involvement plus riders are free to reject offers of work, to make themselves unavailable and to undertake work for competitors.

Which, as many of us know, isn’t a regular employee and employer relationship

So what does this mean?

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which has the largest membership of app-based couriers in the UK, had fought the case to place key protections for gig-workers and allow for representation by trade unions for collective bargaining.

Collective bargaining allows negotiation between employers and a group of employees aimed at agreements to regulate working salaries, working conditions, benefits, and other aspects of workers’ compensation and rights for workers.

The IWGB described the ruling as a “disappointment”. “We cannot accept that thousands of riders should be working without key protections . . . and we will continue to make that case using all avenues available to us,” it said.

Is it a bleak decision? Or a freeing one? And what does it mean to freelancers, if anything?

What about Employers…

This decision is one that will be welcomed by employers who are hiring staff the way Deliveroo have and follow a similar model. What can you take away from this?

First, it is key to focus your understanding on the reasoning behind the courts findings.

We see lots of employers who still don’t work in the ‘Deliveroo’ way but claim they are using freelancers! What’s important in light of this decision is to be aware of all the factors and understand when your staff are deemed employees and if you fall in the right side of law just like Deliveroo did.

Not sure or want to be extra cautious? Get in touch today with our employment team and we can chat about your business: https://www.acumenbusinesslaw.co.uk/contact/

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