Deliveroo has won a major legal victory in a union battle over its drivers' employment status, in what will be seen as a boost for the "gig economy".
The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) ruled that the food delivery app's couriers are self-employed, rather than workers, dismissing a challenge from the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union.
Deliveroo had argued that if riders were classed as workers, they would lose their current flexibility, which allows them to pick up orders as they wish, and be paid by the delivery, rather than working in shifts.
It is a major victory for Deliveroo, which greeted the decision as a victory for riders, and comes just days after Uber lost a key appeal over its drivers' working rights.
The IWGB had sought to have Deliveroo drivers in Camden and Kentish Town recognised as workers, which would have granted them rights such as the minimum wage and sick pay, as well as allowing them to unionise. While the case only covered a small area, it was seen as a test case for Deliveroo riders and the wider gig economy.
However, the CAC declared that since drivers have the ability to "substitute" - allow other riders to take their place on a job - they cannot be classed as workers.
"We find that the substitution right to be genuine, in the sense that Deliveroo have decided in [its new contract] that riders have a right to substitute themselves both before and after they have accepted a particular job; and we have also heard evidence, that we accepted, of it being operated in practice," the CAC said.
"Since we have found that the riders are not workers, we cannot accept the Union’s claim for recognition and for rights to negotiate on pay, hours and holidays with Deliveroo."
Dan Warne, Deliveroo's managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: "This is a victory for all riders who have continuously told us that flexibility is what they value most about working with Deliveroo. We welcome the decision of the Committee.
"As we have consistently argued, our riders value the flexibility that self-employment provides. Riders enjoy being their own boss - having the freedom to choose when and where they work, and riding with other delivery companies at the same time."
The company has previously argued for changes to employment law that would allow it to give riders benefits while allowing them to continue working when they choose.
Last week Uber lost an Employment Appeals Tribunal case on whether its own drivers were workers, and said it would appeal the decision.