In a significant blow to gig economy campaigners and workers’ unions, the UK’s highest court has ruled that Deliveroo riders do not have the right to collective negotiations on pay and conditions. The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has been fighting for over three years to have Deliveroo riders classified as “workers,” giving them the right to unionize and bargain collectively for better terms and conditions. However, the supreme court upheld previous judgments that classified the thousands of UK riders as independent self-employed contractors.
The ruling has prompted the IWGB to explore options to challenge it under international law, potentially taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights. Rather than challenging Deliveroo directly, lawyers anticipate that any challenge would be brought against the UK government, arguing that the ruling violates international employment standards.
While the decision is disappointing for the IWGB and riders advocating for employment rights, Deliveroo welcomed the outcome. The company emphasized that its riders value the flexibility that self-employment offers and highlighted its existing agreements with unions, such as the GMB. Under the GMB deal, riders receive free insurance, sickness cover, and union recognition, without being classified as workers or employees. Deliveroo can now choose which union to recognize without the risk of legal challenge.
The ruling sets a precedent for the gig economy, with potential implications for other companies operating in this sector. Legal experts suggest that the use of substitution clauses, which allow gig workers to arrange for someone else to perform their duties, may exempt them from basic employment rights like the minimum wage and holiday pay. This interpretation may encourage similar employment models in the gig economy.
While the IWGB considers its next steps, it remains determined to secure fundamental employment rights for gig workers. The battle for fair pay, collective bargaining, and key protections continues as the union strives to hold companies accountable for their exploitative business practices.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What was the Supreme Court’s ruling on Deliveroo riders’ employment status?
The UK’s top court ruled that Deliveroo riders should be classified as independent self-employed contractors, denying them the right to collective negotiations on pay and conditions.
2. Can the ruling be challenged under international law?
The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is considering challenging the ruling under international law, potentially by taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
3. How does the ruling affect other gig economy companies?
The ruling sets a precedent that may encourage other gig economy companies to follow Deliveroo’s employment approach, relying on substitution clauses as proof that workers cannot be considered employees.
4. What agreements does Deliveroo have with unions?
Deliveroo has an agreement with the GMB union, where riders receive free insurance, sickness cover, and union recognition without being classified as workers or employees. The ruling allows Deliveroo to choose which union to recognize without the risk of legal challenge.
5. What impact does the ruling have on gig workers’ employment rights?
The use of substitution clauses may limit gig workers’ entitlement to basic employment rights, such as the minimum wage and holiday pay, depending on the specific employment arrangements.