A union for gig economy workers is applying for a judicial review of a ruling that Deliveroo couriers are not workers.
A decision made in November by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) meant that Deliveroo riders are not entitled to holiday pay, the National Living Wage or collective bargaining rights.
The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain on Monday said that it had applied to the High Court for permission to have the ruling reviewed on the grounds that the CAC incorrectly interpreted the law.
Deliveroo’s rider contract allows couriers the right to find a substitute to do their deliveries. In its November ruling, the CAC stated that it considered the clause to be genuine.
The IWGB alleges that no evidence was heard during the tribunal of the substitution clause being correctly used, particularly the obligation for couriers to ensure substitutes are legally entitled to work in the UK, that they are in compliance with the Modern Slavery Act, and that they have no unspent criminal convictions.
The union claims that the CAC also ignored evidence showing that Deliveroo’s substitution clause put the company in breach of health and safety and food safety laws.
IWGB general secretary, Jason Moyer-Lee, said: “The IWGB will not stand by idly while Deliveroo continues to deprive its workers of their rights because they successfully gamed the system, won on a technicality and benefited from a legally questionable tribunal decision.
“This judicial review is about rectifying the situation and forcing Deliveroo to treat its riders as the workers they are.“
There are two stages to a judicial review: the permission stage, in which a judge will make an assessment as to whether the person or group seeking the review has an arguable case, and the substantive hearing, in which all of the facts are assessed. The IWGB’s application is at the permission stage.
The CAC stated in its ruling in November that the union had demonstrated “considerable and consistent levels of support” despite the difficulty of organising riders due to the solitary nature of their work as well as Deliveroo’s opposition to the legal action.
“There are clearly concerns about the precarious nature of the work and the wider debate around the gig economy,” the CAC said.
It said that if it had been able to rule that Deliveroo’s riders were workers it would have found that “a majority of the riders in the proposed bargaining unit would support the Union’s bid for collective bargaining on pay, hours and holiday.”
A spokesperson for Deliveroo said: “This [judicial review] is being pursued by a union that does not represent the riders it claims to speak for.
“Riders want the freedom to choose when and where they work.
“The IWGB want to remove that flexibility and are attempting to fundamentally alter via the backdoor how riders work.
“Deliveroo is committed to defending the creation of well-paid flexible work our riders want and enjoy.”