The Court of Appeal has ruled that Deliveroo riders are self-employed, leaving these couriers without key employment rights. 

A ruling from the Court of Appeal has declared that Deliveroo riders are self-employed as opposed to workers.

Unlike the comparable case which ruled that Uber drivers were workers, this decision was based around the dilemma of whether Deliveroo staff could be entitled to collective bargaining rights.

In 2017, the The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) was refused permission for collective bargaining rights for a group of Deliveroo riders. This was due to the fact they were not considered workers under their employment status.

Since this time, IWGB have been appealing to courts to have Deliveroo riders’ work status changed in order to give the drivers the legal right to unionise.

The Court ultimately stated that Deliveroo riders do have the right to organise but do not have permission to do so via a trade union.

The impact of the Uber case aforementioned was also acknowledged. However, it was deemed to be unrelated as Uber drivers were primarily concerned with the employment rights they were entitled to – as opposed to collective bargaining rights.

Judge Peter Coulson, however, did admit “there may be other cases where, on different facts and with a broader range of available arguments, a different result may eventuate”.

Qdos CEO, Seb Maley, reacted to this ruling:

This is a big blow to Deliveroo riders and many other gig economy workers who feel they deserve employment rights. It also shows that the recent Uber ruling may not have set a precedent after all. Although, we might not have heard the last of this case and I wouldn’t be surprised if another appeal is lodged.

The case exposes the confusing nature of employment law, which leaves millions of people in no man’s land, unsure of whether they’re self-employed, a worker or employed. Like the recent Uber case, it also proves that making well-informed employment status decisions that all parties agree to from day one is vital. Misunderstandings and mistakes pose a big threat to businesses, that could face legal problems and even tax liabilities further down the line.

However, a spokesperson for Deliveroo expressed that the current work model provides their riders with flexibility:

Deliveroo’s model offers the genuine flexibility that is only compatible with self-employment, providing riders with the work they tell us they value.

Those campaigning to remove riders’ flexibility do not speak for the vast majority of riders and seek to impose a way of working that riders do not want. Deliveroo will continue to campaign for companies like ours to be able to offer the full flexibility of self-employment along with greater benefits and more security.

This view was rejected by Alex Marshall, president of the IWGB, who stated:

Deliveroo couriers have been working on the front line of the pandemic and whilst being applauded by the public and even declared heroes by their employer, they have been working under increasingly unfair and unsafe working conditions.

The reward they have received for their herculean effort? Deliveroo continuing to invest thousands of pounds in litigation to silence workers’ voices and deny them the opportunity to negotiate better terms and conditions.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.