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Late contractual changes ahead of tribunal led to riders being considered contractors not workers

The labour law body the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) has ruled that Deliveroo riders are self-employed. In response, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which brought the case, accused the firm of ‘gaming the system’.

The latest instalment in the long-running battle for workers’ rights in the gig economy came about after Deliveroo refused to recognise the IWGB as a union representing drivers in Camden and Kentish Town.

The IWGB position was that riders should be entitled to minimum wage and holiday pay.

The BBC reports that the CAC’s decision hinged on changes to Deliveroo riders’ contracts made shortly before the tribunal – the most significant being that riders were allowed to bring in someone to cover their work.

The ruling said that this particular aspect of the relationship between Deliveroo and its riders was “fatal to the union’s claim.”

“The central and insuperable difficulty for the union is that we find that the substitution right to be genuine, in the sense that Deliveroo have decided in the new contract that riders have a right to substitute themselves both before and after they have accepted a particular job; and we have also heard evidence, that we accepted, of it being operated in practice.”

The new contract also removed performance monitoring and a requirement for riders to wear Deliveroo-branded clothing – both elements that could be seen as differentiating between workers and self-employed contractors.

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Jason Moyer-Lee, the IWGB general secretary, said: “It seems that after a series of defeats, finally a so-called gig economy company has found a way to game the system.

“On the basis of a new contract introduced by Deliveroo’s army of lawyers just weeks before the tribunal hearing, the CAC decided that because a rider can have a mate do a delivery for them, Deliveroo’s low-paid workers are not entitled to basic protections.”

Dan Warne, Managing Director for Deliveroo in the UK and Ireland said: "This is a victory for all riders who have continuously told us that flexibility is what they value most about working with Deliveroo.

"As we have consistently argued, our riders value the flexibility that self-employment provides. Riders enjoy being their own boss – having the freedom to choose when and where they work, and riding with other delivery companies at the same time."

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