De­liv­eroo rid­ers are not work­ers, tri­bunal finds

Rul­ing dis­misses union’s claim for min­i­mum wage Firm ac­cused of ‘gam­ing sys­tem’ with new con­tract

The Guardian - - FINANCIAL - Sarah But­ler

De­liv­eroo yes­ter­day won the right not to pay the min­i­mum wage or hol­i­day pay, deal­ing a blow to cam­paign­ers for gig econ­omy work­ers’ rights.

In a key le­gal rul­ing the Cen­tral Ar­bi­tra­tion Com­mit­tee, a body which re­solves worker dis­putes, said the take­away courier com­pany’s de­liv­ery rid­ers were self-em­ployed con­trac­tors be­cause they had the right to al­lo­cate some­one else to do the work for them.

The case, brought by the In­de­pen­dent Work­ers Union of Great Bri­tain (IWGB), re­lates to couri­ers in the Cam­den and Ken­tish Town dis­tricts of north London, but is seen as a test case.

The CAC rul­ing said: “The cen­tral and in­su­per­a­ble dif­fi­culty for the union is that we find the sub­sti­tu­tion right to be gen­uine, in the sense that De­liv­eroo have de­cided in the new con­tract that rid­ers have a right to sub­sti­tute them­selves both be­fore and af­ter they have ac­cepted a par­tic­u­lar job; and we have also heard ev­i­dence, that we ac­cepted, of it be­ing op­er­ated in prac­tice.” The CAC said its find­ing on this par­tic­u­lar as­pect of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween De­liv­eroo and its rid­ers was “fa­tal to the union’s claim”.

The union can re­quest a ju­di­cial re­view, but is still con­sid­er­ing its po­si­tion.

Dan Warne, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for De­liv­eroo in the UK and Ire­land said: “This is a vic­tory for all rid­ers who have con­tin­u­ously told us that flex­i­bil­ity is what they value most about work­ing with De­liv­eroo.”

The com­pany wanted em­ploy­ment law to be changed, he said, so that De­liv­eroo could of­fer in­jury pay and sick pay while main­tain­ing flex­i­bil­ity. “We want to work with gov­ern­ment to up­date leg­is­la­tion and end the trade-off be­tween flex­i­bil­ity and se­cu­rity,” he said.

The IWGB said the CAC had found that the ma­jor­ity of De­liv­eroo rid­ers were likely to sup­port union recog­ni­tion and that the com­pany had found a way to “game the sys­tem”.

At the CAC tri­bunal in May, it emerged that De­liv­eroo had re­cently made a se­ries of changes to its con­tracts, in­clud­ing al­low­ing rid­ers to bring in some­one to cover their work if they want to. Be­ing un­able to send some­one else to do your work is a key def­i­ni­tion of a worker, an em­ploy­ment clas­si­fi­ca­tion that car­ries the right to the na­tional min­i­mum wage, union recog­ni­tion and hol­i­day pay.

The com­pany also re­moved per­for­mance mon­i­tor­ing and a re­quire­ment for rid­ers to wear its branded cloth­ing, both fac­tors seen as cen­tral to dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing be­tween work­ers, who are ser­vice providers closely con­trolled by an em­ployer, and self-em­ployed con­trac­tors.

Ja­son Moyer-Lee, IWGB gen­eral sec­re­tary, said: “It seems that af­ter a se­ries of de­feats, fi­nally a so-called gig econ­omy com­pany 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, a em­ploy­ment part­ner at the law firm Ashurst, said: “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.”

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