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Employment status case turned on right of substitution

Newsletter issue - December 2017.

Employment status tax cases often make the headlines in the professional press and the recent case involving Deliveroo riders was no exception. The meal delivery firm won the case in the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), confirming that its riders are not 'workers'. This is the latest challenge to the employment status of 'gig economy' workers.

In this case, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) sought to argue that riders were workers, so that they could claim union recognition, thus affording them certain collective rights regarding the minimum wage entitlement, holiday and sick pay, and pension contributions.

The CAC rejected the claim that the riders were 'workers', hinging the case on the riders' 'ability to turn down a job both before and after accepting it'.

Historically, a genuine right of substitution, whether 'sideways' to someone of similar seniority or by way of delegation to a junior, has been regarded as one of the strongest factors favouring self-employment.

The case follows a number of claims brought by workers in the 'gig' economy demanding rights such as holiday pay, the minimum wage and pensions contributions. Drivers at Uber won a recent victory when the company lost an appeal at the Employment Appeal Tribunal against an earlier decision to grant them workers' rights.

The transcript from the Deliveroo riders' case can be found here.