Deliveroo riders are self-employed, a UK high court judge has ruled, meaning they do not get employee rights such as sick pay and collective bargaining.
Deliveroo riders deliver food from restaurants and fast food vendors such as Wagamama, Pizza Express, Prezzo and KFC, riding bikes, which are supposedly faster than cars in busy city centers and more environmentally friendly. (See Deliveroo Cyclists Saved Almost 1,400 Tons of CO2 in 2017.)
Because the riders are not in an "employment relationship" with Deliveroo, they do not have the rights to collectively bargain for things like holiday and sick pay, minimum wage or pension contributions, which the riders do not get as they are part of the so-called "gig" economy, meaning they get paid only when they work actually working. (See Deliveroo Sales Grew 116% in 2017, but Uber Aims to Gobble It Up.)
The ruling came after the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) attempted to overturn a verdict from last November ruling the riders were self-employed, which came from labor law body the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC). These rulings can be appealed against or challenged in the High Court -- as the IWGB tried to do -- but the union's application for a full judicial review was rejected.
The IWGB claimed that the riders' human rights were being breached, as they did not have collective bargaining powers. However, because the high court ruled that they riders are not in the aforementioned "employment relationship" with Deliveroo, their human rights have not been breached.
Like other members of the gig economy, Deliveroo riders do not get sick pay or pension contributions. (Image: Deliveroo)
The IWGB plans to appeal this ruling, with the union's general secretary, Jason Lee-Moyer, saying: "Today's judgment is a terrible one, not just in terms of what it means for low-paid Deliveroo riders but also in terms of understanding the European convention on human rights. Deliveroo riders should be entitled to basic worker rights as well as to the ability to be represented by trade unions to negotiate pay and terms and conditions."
This will come as a blow to gig economy workers and campaigners, who were hoping to get some protection and benefits from the companies they work for, whether that be Amazon, Deliveroo, Uber or any number of small courier or delivery services in the UK. A small consolation for riders will be that as they are officially self-employed, they can choose when and where they work, meaning they could deliver packages from Amazon during the day and deliver food for Deliveroo in the evening, if they so desired.
Perhaps predictably, Deliveroo praised the ruling, with UK managing director Dan Warne saying, "We are pleased that today's judgment upholds the earlier decisions of the High Court and the CAC that Deliveroo riders are self-employed, providing them the flexibility they want. In addition to emphatically confirming this under UK national law, the Court also carefully examined the question under European law and concluded riders are self-employed."
He continued: "This a victory for riders who have consistently told us the flexibility to choose when and where they work, which comes with self-employment, is their number one reason for riding with Deliveroo. We will continue to seek to offer riders more security and make the case that Government should end the trade off in Britain between flexibility and security."