(Bloomberg) -- The UK’s top court ruled that Deliveroo Plc delivery drivers are not classed as workers and can’t form a trade union, in a decision that’s likely to have far-reaching consequences for gig economy workers.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain was fighting for “worker” rights for a group of Deliveroo’s London-based delivery drivers to be able to have the right to seek bargaining powers within a union. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that Deliveroo’s drivers were self-employed and therefore don’t have access to the usual rights of an employee.
“UK courts repeatedly and at every level have confirmed that Deliveroo riders are self-employed, and this now includes the Supreme Court, the highest court in the country,” a Deliveroo spokesperson said.
Deliveroo erased a 2.7% decline to rise as much as 1% after the ruling in London.
Britain’s growing gig economy has come under legal and political scrutiny in recent times as the treatment of delivery drivers including low pay, long hours, and a lack of job security has been brought to light. Deliveroo attracted criticism from investors and riders about the way it treats its couriers.
The IWGB labor union has been fighting for the rights of the take-away delivery drivers for a number of years.
Five Supreme Court judges dismissed the Union’s case in a judgment Tuesday. They said that the riders were “not in an employment relationship” and the laws that protected trade union activity didn’t apply to them.
“As a union we cannot accept that thousands of riders should be working without key protections like the right to collective bargaining, and we will continue to make that case using all avenues available to us,” said an IWGB spokesperson in a statement.
Read More: Deliveroo Jumps After Court Rules its Drivers are Self-Employed
Uber Technologies Inc. lost a similar legal case at the Supreme Court in 2021, when judges decided that that drivers were workers and were entitled to rights like minimum wage, holiday pay and rest breaks.
“This is a fundamentally important ruling for the gig economy, not just for Deliveroo,” said Yvonne Gallagher, an employment lawyer at Harbottle & Lewis who wasn’t involved in the case. “The Supreme Court ruling may give rise to other gig economy companies following the Deliveroo employment approach.”
--With assistance from Joe Easton.
(Updates with Deliveroo shares in the fifth paragraph)
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