19 May 2021

Subject to appeal, of course, but this is a big decision: “Deliveroo is facing the prospect of a wave of backpay claims after a tribunal ruled one of its contracted couriers was actually an employee with a right to an industry minimum wage. The ruling poses a major challenge to the delivery giant’s reliance on classifying workers as ‘independent contractors’ who have much more flexible hours but lack the protections employees have and are therefore generally cheaper to employ. … Commissioner Cambridge said all of the facets of Mr Franco’s arrangement with Deliveroo, taken together ‘like the colours from the artist’s palette, emerged to form a complete picture’ and showed he was an employee. Among the reasons were that Mr Franco did not build up his own business or brand as a rider, booked his shifts through a company system, did not have a distinct trade or profession, dressed in clothing with Deliveroo branding, and did not bring his own significant assets to the business.” The upshot? “Workers are typically entitled to six years’ back pay for lost wages, meaning the company could be up for a huge bill if Mr Franco’s case sets a precedent for more than 20,000 people who have ridden for Deliveroo in that time.”