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Food delivery riders 'are self-employed'

12 Dec 2018 / employment Print

Food delivery riders 'are self-employed' – ruling

Food-delivery couriers who lost a High Court battle in England for collective bargaining rights may take their case further, under human rights legislation.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which represents Deliveroo riders, among others, has said that not allowing collective bargaining for the new wave of app-driven delivery persons goes against the European Convention on Human Rights.


The IWGB has been denied the right to bargain on rider hours, pay and holidays, in a judgment from the British High Court last Wednesday.

“The judgment is a terrible one, not just in terms of what it means for low-paid Deliveroo riders, but also in terms of understanding the European Convention on Human Rights,” said Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the IWGB.


The judgment found that Deliveroo riders can’t be classed as workers because the business is willing to allow riders to pass jobs around to other available cyclists.

Deliveroo’s lawyer Colin Leckey said that the ruling “emphatically upholds the finding of the Central Arbitration Committee [of November 2017] that Deliveroo riders are fully self-employed for the purposes of employment law.”

The CAC oversees trade union recognition in Britain. Its ruling last year found that Deliveroo riders are considered to be self-employed individual contractors rather than employees with rights, such as annual leave.


Last week’s High Court judgment found that human rights had not been violated, stating that delivery riders were not in an ‘employment relationship’ but rather in a ‘business relationship’.

Employment law will be extremely important in determining whether Deliveroo and other gig economy riders receive basic worker benefits, as well as the right to have trade unions negotiate on their behalf.

However, as regards the Irish situation, employment law expert Wendy Doyle (partner at Tully Rinckey Ireland) argues that riders fall into a third employment category that has yet to be defined by law.

Piece work

“Employment law can become murky when discussing worker rights for those who engage in piece work or contracted work, and are not considered workers in the traditional sense,” she said this morning.

“There are calls for a third category of workers under employment law to ensure that all those who perform any type of work are protected.


“It will be up to the High Court and/or new legislation to determine what type of protections these types of individuals receive or do not receive.

"We are currently, in this country, awaiting updates in respect of the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 Act,” she said.

That Irish law prohibits zero-hour contracts, and ring-fences minimum pay.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland