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Deliveroo Riders: Self-Employed status confirmed by Supreme Court

Payroll • Jan 18, 2024 10:30:19 AM • Written by: Georgia Reynolds

The Supreme Court recently decided that Deliveroo riders are considered self-employed, not 'workers’. This decision is a huge deal highlighting the importance of job contracts in employment relationships. Let's take a closer look at what this all means.

Deliveroo riders, who are commonly seen delivering takeaways, are historically self-employed. However, some riders in London joined the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, seeking improved working conditions. Deliveroo refused to recognise the union or engage in collective bargaining. The Union took the case to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), which determined that the riders were self-employed. Both the High Court and the Supreme Court upheld this decision.

'The Supreme Court's decision on Deliveroo riders being classified as self-employed prompts important considerations for both workers and companies with comparable business models.'

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The case was brought under Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, protecting the rights of peaceful assembly and association. To qualify for these rights, there must be an employment relationship.

The Supreme Court looked at how Deliveroo riders and the company work together to decide if the riders are employees or not. Deliveroo revised their agreement to better suit with being self-employed. The court agreed with the new contract but checked the details to make sure it matched the actual working arrangement.

Riders provided their own equipment, including vehicles, mobile phones, and liability insurance. They were not required to wear Deliveroo uniforms and could work for competitors simultaneously. The court spoke about the broad and unfettered substitution clause, allowing riders to appoint substitutes at any time. Despite rarely being used, the substitution clause was crucial. Deliveroo made it easy to accept or decline work without obligations. Control measures, such as strict uniform policies, were reduced in the new contract, indicating a shift in both written terms and actual practices.

This case highlights the importance of contracts and the ability to modify them. Deliveroo did some serious work to make sure their contract matched what happens on the ground. They made a point of showing they don't boss the riders around and that riders can bring in a substitute when needed. All of this had a big say in what the court decided.

In summary, the Supreme Court's decision on Deliveroo riders being classified as self-employed prompts important considerations for both workers and companies with comparable business models. For workers, it raises questions about their employment status and the rights associated with it. Meanwhile, similar companies to Deliveroo may find themselves reassessing how they engage their workforce, as this decision sets an example for looking closely at how people are hired.

This decision signals a potential shift in how companies with similar business models approach and define their interactions with workers, prompting a broader review of employment practices in the evolving landscape of flexible work arrangements.

Another example of why having a compliant supply chain is crucial to reduce risk, something we at Giant are very focused on ensuring we support our workers in the same way. 

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Georgia Reynolds

Marketing Coordinator – Content