The recent ruling by an employment tribunal that two
Uber drivers were workers and not self-employed contractors has
sparked action in other businesses within the gig economy. The gig
economy is based on a new premise where individuals are paid for
'gigs' they perform, such as delivering food, and offers
flexibility for businesses and those serving them.
This week, Deliveroo (an online food delivery company which
delivers food on behalf of restaurants nationwide) was also called
into question about its employment practices and whether its riders
should be treated as workers rather than self-employed
The company received a letter from the Independent Workers Union
of Great Britain (IWGB) on behalf of its riders operating in the
Camden zone for recognition for the Union to seek a collective
bargaining agreement on behalf of the group of riders. Recognition
by Deliveroo would mean that the company would have to enter into
negotiations with the Union regarding employment rights including
pay, holiday and other terms and conditions which employees, not
self-employed contractors, would be entitled to.
Deliveroo has been given 10 days to respond and give voluntary
recognition to the Union, but if the company fails to respond
within the time frame, the Union will resort to legal procedures to
obtain statutory recognition. It will do so by submitting an
application to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for a
declaration that Deliveroo must engage with the Union for the
purposes of collective bargaining.
This could pose significant issues for Deliveroo since any
negotiations and agreements reached with the Camden riders are
likely to be rolled out with its riders across the country. The
company may need to consider whether or not its business in the
current format is viable going forward if it is required to treat
all of its riders as workers rather than contractors.
It will be interesting to see whether the same issue will arise
in other businesses which operate in a similar way.
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In SSE Generation Limited v Hochtief Solutions AG and another decided on 21st December 2016, the Court of Session in Scotland considered a contractor's potential design liability under the NEC Form of Contract.
Case law concerning the Agency Worker Regulations remains limited. We recently advised a recruitment business involved in a dispute with a "temp" and a hirer regarding who was liable for an alleged breach of AWR Regulation 5.
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