The CAC finds that Deliveroo riders are not workers
Monday 27th November 2017
The Central Arbitration Committee has found that Deliveroo riders are not workers. An application for recognition as a bargaining unit for the purposes of collective bargaining was therefore denied.
Collective bargaining rights only apply to workers as defined by the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Conciliation) Act 1992. This is broadly the same definition as in the Employment Rights Act 1996, although not identical. The ERA “worker” definition has been the subject of significant ET litigation involving the gig-economy. A key element is that the individual is required to personally perform any services or work under the contract.
In May 2017, Deliveroo began using a new and less restrictive contract. Under these terms, Deliveroo is not required to make any work available and riders are not obliged to do any work or indicate their availability. They may also work for competitors. While logged into the app used to allocate the deliveries, riders can decide whether to accept or reject delivery orders offered to them, provided they perform at least one delivery every three months. They are not required to accept a certain percentage of orders, wear Deliveroo branded kit or adhere to the suggested routes. They can also change their minds about completing a job, even after accepting the delivery.
The new contract also included a substitution clause, allowing riders to appoint another person to work on their behalf at any time and without Deliveroo’s prior approval. The individual rider is responsible for ensuring that the substitute has the necessary skills, complies with all contractual obligations and for remunerating the substitute. Deliveroo does not oversee this and will not necessarily be aware of a substitute’s involvement.
The CAC observed that its task was to find the “true agreement or the actual legal obligations of the parties”. While it was acknowledged that the need for substitutes was limited, the CAC considered the clause was genuine and accepted evidence that substitution did happen in practice.
The CAC therefore held that the Deliveroo riders were not workers, as they were not obliged to personally provide services. The CAC specifically stated that it considered the factual situation to be very different to that of Uber, Excel or City Sprint.
All information in this update is intended for general guidance only and is not intended to be comprehensive, or to provide legal advice.