Trade union not recognised in respect of Deliveroo workers

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) applied via the statutory recognition procedure to be recognised by Deliveroo for collective bargaining purposes in relation to a group of Deliveroo riders in a certain food delivery zone.

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) rejected the application on the grounds that the riders were not “workers” as defined in the relevant legislation. IWGB applied for judicial review of the CACs decision, arguing that the decision prevented the riders from exercising their rights under Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights to freedom of association and to join trade unions. IWGB's application was dismissed by the High Court, the Court of Appeal and, in November 2023, by the Supreme Court:

Independent Workers Union of Great Britain v Central Arbitration Committee and another. 

The Supreme Court held that in order to benefit from the right to form and join a trade union, there must be an “employment relationship”. Every case about “worker” or “employee” status is decided on its own facts, and all factors need to be considered, but in this case the riders' right to provide a substitute was critical in its determination: it was a broad power of substitution which applied before and after a rider had agreed to take a delivery. The Supreme Court concluded that there was no obligation to provide personal service and no “employment relationship”. The application for union recognition could not therefore proceed in this case.

If you have any queries you would like to discuss regarding the IWGB Trade Union review, please contact Rena Magdani or Matt McBride.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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