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Supreme court confirms Deliveroo riders are not “in employment”

The Supreme Court, in Independent Workers Union of Great Britain v Central Arbitration Committee, has unanimously dismissed the IWGB’s appeal. It held that the riders were not in an employment relationship for the purposes of article 11 ECHR, and the provisions of that article which protect trade union activity do not apply to them. The CAC’s decision to reject the IWGB’s application stands.

The Supreme Court, in Independent Workers Union of Great Britain v Central Arbitration Committee, has unanimously dismissed the IWGB’s appeal. It held that the riders were not in an employment relationship for the purposes of article 11 ECHR, and the provisions of that article which protect trade union activity do not apply to them. The CAC’s decision to reject the IWGB’s application stands.

In an eagerly anticipated judgement, the Supreme Court has said people working for Deliveroo couldn’t be considered employees because they don’t have specified hours, can work for rival companies, and can appoint someone to work in their place.

Judge Vivien Rose said Deliveroo riders did not have an “employment relationship” with the food courier company and were not entitled to compulsory collective bargaining.

Lady Rose, along with Lord Lloyd-Jones, said multiple factors, including riders being free to decline offers of work and to work for Deliveroo’s competitors, were “fundamentally inconsistent” with such a relationship.

Deliveroo riders had sought collective bargaining rights at the company and the case was brought by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB).

They had tried to negotiate pay and conditions with the company but were refused in 2017 as the members did not meet the definition of a worker under UK law.

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) had refused to accept the IWGB application on the basis that the riders were not ‘workers’ of Deliveroo within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. Riders were not required to provide personal service and they were allowed to use substitutes.

The union’s appeal was based on the case that it breached Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, arguing that the definition of ‘worker’ in the 1992 Act should have been construed to give effect to Article 11. Article 11 protects the right to freedom of association and to form and join a trade union.

Under UK employment law, workers don’t receive the full range of legal rights conferred on employees.

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