There has been plenty of confusion regarding the rights of ‘gig economy workers’ recently, especially after Uber lost its appeal against a ruling that its drivers should be treated as workers rather than self-employed.

In 2016, a tribunal ruled that drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam were indeed Uber staff and, as such, entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the minimum wage.

However, a separate ruling found that Deliveroo riders are not workers, and are instead considered to be self-employed, which means they aren’t entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the minimum wage – the complete contrast to the Uber ruling.

So if there are self-employed contractors operating within your business or organisation, you may be wondering what this means for you…


In the immediate term, it probably won’t mean much. However, any self-employed contractors within your business may be mulling over the idea of opening a tribunal case to challenge their employment status, even more so since fees for lodging a claim were recently abolished, meaning employees and workers can take their boss to court effectively cost-free.

With 4.6 million self-employed contractors in the UK, the Uber case is likely to raise questions among any working for you.

Workers’ rights

The next logical question is, ‘what are the rights of self-employed contractors?’. Anyone who works for a company is entitled to basic rights such as paid holiday leave, regular rest breaks and a minimum wage.

However, as it stands, self-employed contractors are not afforded these rights or protections. But in the face of high-profile disputes centring around Addison Lee, CitySprint, Pimlico Plumbers and the aforementioned Deliveroo, the ‘gig economy’ might be coming to an end.

In the case of Deliveroo, granting workers’ rights would lump on an additional pound to the regular £2.50 delivery cost, which could potentially damage the service’s appeal and business.

What next?

Some experts have called for the worker status to be scrapped and the introduction of a clear distinction between employed and self-employed.

Others have called for greater clarity on employment status and raised SME employment issues.

Any businesses with self-employed contractors would be wise to take the time to assess the status of its entire workforce, in a bid to minimise any risk from an employment tribunal.

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