In a pivotal moment for the gig economy, the UK Supreme Court is poised to determine whether Deliveroo’s London riders should be classified as ‘workers.’ The decision, expected this week, holds significant implications for the collective bargaining rights of Deliveroo riders and sets the stage for potential changes in the gig economy landscape.
The legal saga, spanning seven years and various English courts, revolves around the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain’s (IWGB) challenge to Deliveroo’s classification of riders as ‘self-employed’ rather than ‘workers.’ At the heart of the matter is the riders’ inability to form a collective bargaining unit, limiting their negotiating power on pay and working conditions.
The Supreme Court’s ruling follows previous dismissals of the IWGB’s challenge by the Central Arbitration Committee, the High Court, and the Court of Appeal, all asserting the ‘self-employed’ status of Deliveroo riders. The IWGB’s appeal to the Supreme Court was prompted by its dissatisfaction with Deliveroo’s engagement with the GMB union, which it labeled a “publicity stunt” in 2022.
The decision carries weight not only for the approximately 50,000 Deliveroo riders but also for workers in similar positions across various companies operating in the gig economy. The outcome may shape the future of collective bargaining and employment status in the gig work sector.
The Dutch Supreme Court’s ruling in March, categorizing Deliveroo riders as employees, adds an international dimension to the ongoing debate. The decision in the UK will be closely watched, especially in the wake of the 2021 Supreme Court ruling that deemed Uber drivers as ‘workers.’
Reflecting on the Uber decision, London Mayor Sadiq Khan noted its significance in addressing issues of low pay and job insecurity, emphasizing the potential impact of similar determinations on workers’ rights.
As the gig economy undergoes legal scrutiny, the Supreme Court’s forthcoming decision could mark a defining moment, influencing the rights and status of gig workers in the UK.