Sam Shead/Business Insider UK
A UK tribunal is expected to rule on whether Deliveroo riders are employees, in a case that will have ramifications for gig-economy firms.
The Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union claimed in a press release that Deliveroo "bogusly" classifies riders as independent contractors, and says they are in fact workers.
If the union wins its claim, Deliveroo riders might be entitled to a minimum wage, paid holiday, and other employment rights, IWGB president Jason Moyer-Lee told Business Insider.
In a statement, Moyer-Lee added: "For years employers in the so-called gig economy have been able to get away with unlawfully depriving their workers of employment rights to which they are legally entitled. The chickens are now coming home to roost. In this tribunal hearing we intend to expose Deliveroo’s sham operations and force them to finally reckon with the rule of law."
A Deliveroo spokesman said: "We are proud to offer flexible work to 15,000 people in the UK. The IWGB do not accurately represent the vast majority of our riders who overwhelmingly support the flexibility and good pay which comes with being self employed. That is no doubt why the IWGB is seeking recognition in just one small part of London. We look forward to engaging with the Central Arbitration Committee’s hearing as they assess the credibility of the IWGB’s claim."
The union's claim is represented by the same law firm that successfully argued against Uber last year, Leigh Day, as well as trade barrister John Hendy QC. Uber is appealing the ruling.
The IWGB's claim is part of its efforts to gain union recognition and, eventually, workers' rights, Leigh Day soliciter Annie Powell told Business Insider. An initial step is for the Central Arbitration Committee to determine whether Deliveroo riders count as workers. Even if the committee decides riders are employees, Powell said, this doesn't automatically grant them rights such as holiday pay or sick leave. Riders would need to file a claim with the employment tribunal, as two Uber drivers successfully did last year.
The tribunal comes shortly after Deliveroo's managing director, Dan Warne, was tripped up by MPs over a clause in the company's employment contracts which forbids riders from arguing their employment status. Warne eventually promised the company would drop the clause.
The hearings will take place on May 24 and 25.
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