Fair Work Australia Rules Deliveroo Rider is an Employee, Not Contractor

A ruling handed down by Fair Work Australia has said that a Deliveroo Rider is an employee, not a contractor, while ordering the delivery platform to reinstate his employment. 

The case centered on a man by the name of Diego Franco, who was fired from Deliveroo as a rider via an email sent last month. Deliveroo said that the rider took “significantly longer” to complete a “high number” of deliveries. 

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Mr Franco took his case to the Fair Work Australia tribunal, arguing that he was not notified of any lapse in performance before his contract was terminated by Deliveroo. 

The Fair Work Commissioner, Ian Cambridge ruled yesterday that Mr Franco had indeed been unfairly dismissed, and should be awarded the same rights in the event of a termination as an employee does, not a contractor. 

The Fair Work Commissioner said that Deliveroo’s decision to cancel his employment was “harsh, unjust and unreasonable.” 

“Mr Franco had every justification for being aggrieved by the callous and perfunctory termination of his services and any criticism of Deliveroo’s conduct was understandable,” Cambridge said in the ruling. 

As it stands, the fleet of delivery riders and drivers working for companies like Deliveroo and Uber Eats remain contractors, meaning they have limited access to protests under unfair dismissal laws, as well as sick leave and minimum wage rights. 

Fair Work Australia Rules Deliveroo Rider is an Employee, Not Contractor

Fair Work Australia’s Commissioner Cambridge said that Mr Franco’s status represented that of an employee, rather than a contractor, due to the fact that he “was not carrying on a trade or business of his own, or on his own behalf,” as well as the “level of control that Deliveroo possessed” over Mr Franco’s work situation.  

Deliveroo has issued a statement saying that “we do not accept the premise upon which the decision was taken and do not believe this reflects how Deliveroo riders work with the company in practice.”  

“We are confident that riders are engaged as independent contractors,” Deliveroo said. “Riders have the absolute freedom to decide whether, when and where they work, and if they do go online they can decide how long to work and can freely reject any offer to work offered to them.” 

The company concluded that “riders frequently tell us that the freedom that comes with self employment is the key reason why they choose Deliveroo, and we will appeal this decision to protect those freedoms.” 

Michael Kaine, national secretary of the Transport Workers Union has said that the ruling is an important milestone for regulations within the gig economy, as well as their classification of riders as employees, rather than contractors. 

“The treatment of gig workers isn’t just unfair, it is deadly,” Kaine said. 

“Riders work under the spectre that they may get sacked at any moment and are forced to risk their lives to make deliveries quickly,” he said. “This ruling has huge implications for gig workers in Australia and we urge the Federal Government to look at it today and to start devising regulation now.” 

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