Union to take on Deliveroo over riders’ employment status

Union to take on Deliveroo over riders’ employment status

09/16/2022 - 09:19

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) will take on food delivery giant Deliveroo in the Supreme Court in an attempt to secure better employment rights for the company’s riders.

The court case will centre on the employment status of Deliveroo riders and the employment status they’re entitled to.

IWGB believe that riders should be classed as ‘workers’ and so should be entitled to additional rights like paid holiday pay, sick pay and the National Minimum Wage.

At the moment, riders are classed as self-employed, which means they only have very limited employment rights.

Deliveroo has reached a voluntary agreement with another union - the GMB.

This agreement means the GMB has the power to collectively bargain on rider pay and can represent individual riders in disputes with the company, but IWGB says this agreement doesn’t go far enough.

Separately, Deliveroo has also pledged to pay all of its riders National Minimum Wage, but only when they are actively delivering. This means drivers don’t get the statutory minimum when they’re waiting for an order or when they sign into the app for work.

This is one of the biggest issues for IWGB which has consistently raised the issue of low pay at the company.

Deliveroo has said riders are paid more than £10 an hour on average, but analysis by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism of invoices collected via the IWGB found more than half of the couriers were paid less than that.

It found that one cycle courier in Yorkshire was paid the equivalent of £2 an hour over 180 hours of work.

An ‘employment status’ is a person’s legal status at work and affects the employment rights they’re entitled to. There are three main types of employment status under employment law - worker, employee and self-employed.

According to ACAS, workers are more likely to:

  • Work on a casual basis
  • Be employed to work for themselves
  • Have irregular hours
  • Have little obligation to be available for work

People are more likely to be classed as self-employed if they:

  • Are responsible for how and when they work
  • Are the owner of a company or are a freelancer
  • Invoice a company for work instead of getting a wage
  • Can send someone else to work in their place
  • Work for different clients and charge different fees

The rules are quite complicated and it’s often unclear which employment status applies, especially with app-based service companies like Uber and Deliveroo. These companies popularised working in the so-called ‘gig economy’ and were the subjects of two high profile legal cases last year.

While courts ruled that drivers for the ride-hailing app Uber were workers, Deliveroo riders were classed as self-employed. 

Alex Marshall, a former courier and president of the IWGB said: “It is outrageous that Deliveroo is continuing to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds fighting the IWGB in court over collective bargaining rights when it has just granted collective bargaining rights to another unrepresentative union.

“Clearly, Deliveroo accepts the legitimacy of collective bargaining for couriers but is simply not prepared to engage in collective bargaining with the union that has the largest membership of gig economy couriers. Deliveroo should be investing this money in courier pay and conditions, rather than trying to silence its workers who only want a seat at the table.”

In response to the legal challenge, a Deliveroo spokesperson said UK courts had repeatedly found that its riders are self-employed, which they claimed “is the only status that offers riders the freedom and control they value”.

For more information about employment status and what it means for you, speak to a member of the Umbrella.co.uk team today. Call: 01625 544 460.