A judge has given the union for independent workers the go-ahead to contest the self-employed status of Deliveroo drivers.

Mrs Justice Simler gave the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) permission to seek a full judicial review of the ruling, given by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) in November last year.

No holiday pay or minimum wage

The committee had found that Deliveroo riders were not workers because they were able to pass on a job to a substitute or abandon a job. This meant they were not providing a personal service, and therefore could not be classified as workers with the right to collective bargaining.

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However, as self-employed contractors they are not entitled to basic employment rights such as holiday pay and a guaranteed minimum wage.

Bargain collectively

Simler rejected a number of the union’s arguments related to employment status but said that Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to freedom of assembly and association – should apply to Deliveroo riders.

“This is no longer just an employment rights issues, this is a human rights matter,” Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the IWGB, said.

Deliveroo is the latest case like this to come before the courts. Just days before, the Supreme Court decided that a self-employed tradesman working for Pimlico Plumbers was, in fact, a worker and so entitled to benefits like holiday pay.

More clarity required

In the wake of this news, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) has come forward, saying the government should write into statute a positive definition of self-employment to provide clarity on who does and does not work for themselves.

“The fact that this decision comes only months after CAC ruled in favour of Deliveroo emphasises the uncertainty and makes the need for a statutory definition of self-employment crystal clear,” IPSE’s director of policy, Simon McVicker, commented.

“It is unacceptable that policymakers are relying on costly, time-consuming court cases as the first port of call in determining employment status. IPSE has long asserted that there is a fundamental lack of clarity about what does and doesn’t constitute self-employment. This confusion hurts both the self-employed and those looking to engage them.”

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