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Gig in the dock, again

Holly Cudbill

The further protest by Deliveroo drivers in Brighton & Hove highlights the growing anger felt by the riders, now supported by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). From Holly Cudbill, Associate Solicitor – Coffin Mew.

The IWGB has asked Deliveroo for trade union recognition and threatened it with an application to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) if this is not agreed. This is a strange move, as the CAC cannot determine the employment status of the riders and, as the workforce needs to comprise workers or employees for there to be union recognition, any application to the CAC is likely to fail.

What is more likely is that some of the riders will seek to challenge their status as self-employed riders in the Employment Tribunal, either as part of IWGB’s application, or separately. It may be that the riders have not done this yet, as they have been put-off by the clause in their contracts which apparently prevents them from doing this; however, such a clause would not be upheld by an Employment Tribunal.

To prove to an Employment Tribunal that the riders are workers, they would need to show that they are obliged to perform the service themselves, in other words, if they don’t feel like turning up for a shift, they can’t simply send a friend in their place. The riders would also need to show that Deliveroo has a high level of control over the way they work. If the riders were successful in proving that they are workers, although the decision would not be legally binding for the other riders who hadn’t brought the claim, Deliveroo would need to quickly change its contracts and working practice to make sure it didn’t find itself facing a huge bill for back pay.

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