Worker status: the dividing line becomes clearer

Friday 14th December 2018

Worker status is a subject which crops up with such regularity that we suspect it will elicit the occasional groan. We will keep these comments brief.

The general zeitgeist of the Employment Tribunals and EAT appears to be to broaden the definition of ‘worker’ to include as many individuals as possible. In this context, the recent finding that Deliveroo riders were not workers for the purpose of collective bargaining arrangements might appear somewhat surprising.

However, it appears that a decisive factor in the finding was the right to provide a substitute who could be engaged directly by the rider without the need for approval by Deliveroo, and the fact that this right had actually been utilised. In light of recent decisions in Pimlico Plumbers v Smith and Addison-Lee v Lange, both of which emphasised the obligation of personal service, it could be that such an unfettered right of substitution is where the boundary of worker and contractor status will lie.