Deliveroo accused by QC of misinformation in tribunal case over whether workers are independent contractors or employees

Deliveroo, the food delivery company, has been accused of running a campaign of misinformation and implementing last-minute changes to contracts in an effort to prevent riders from gaining better employment rights, in a tribunal hearing.

The Central Arbitration Committee is investigating whether Deliveroo’s drivers are independent contractors, as the company argues, or whether they should be classified as workers with rights to holiday pay, the national minimum wage and collective bargaining, as the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB), counter-argues, according to an article in The Guardian.

Deliveroo told the CAC that fewer than 50 of the 213 riders signed up to its systems in the Camden area were union members. However, the IWGB told the CAC panel that riders had been put off joining up by a “campaign of misinformation” by Deliveroo.

Quoting from emails and transcripts of recorded conversations, John Hendy QC, the barrister for the riders, said couriers had been told by Deliveroo managers that if they gained worker status they would no longer be classed as self-employed. He added that Deliveroo had deliberately been “fogging” the definition of worker status to “intimidate riders from joining the IWGB”.

It also emerged at the CAC tribunal that Deliveroo had recently made a series of changes to its contracts, including removing performance monitoring and a requirement for riders to wear its branded clothing. Deliveroo also now allows riders to bring in someone to cover their work if they want to. Both these factors are seen as central to differentiating between workers, who are service providers closely controlled by an employer, and self-employed contractors.

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