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Supreme Court Ruling in Ireland Establishes Delivery Drivers as Permanent Employees, Signaling Significant Impacts on Employment Sector

Dublin: In a landmark decision with broad implications for the employment landscape in Ireland, the Supreme Court has ruled that delivery drivers should be recognised as permanent employees of the companies they serve, potentially affecting thousands of contract workers across various delivery firms, including Domino’s Pizza.

The case in question involved Karshan (Midlands) Ltd., trading as Domino’s Pizza, which had classified its delivery drivers as contractors rather than employees, leading to a dispute. The drivers contended that they were, in fact, tax-paying employees, while Domino’s asserted their status as contractors based on ‘Agreements for Service.’ Domino’s had appealed the Tax Appeal Commissioner’s 2018 decision, which recognised the drivers as paid workers. Although the Court of Appeal initially overturned this decision by a 2-1 majority, the Revenue Commissioners subsequently pursued and obtained a further appeal to the Supreme Court.

In a unanimous verdict, the seven-judge Supreme Court overturned the previous ruling on Friday, establishing that delivery drivers are indeed employees. This judgement extends beyond pizza delivery workers, encompassing all contract-based workers throughout the country. It is expected to prompt revisions in wage and service conditions set by current employers for contract employees.

The court emphasised that the determination of whether an individual is an employee should be made on a case-by-case basis and suggested that the government may need to enact specific laws to address and complement the existing requirements.

Experts in labour and employment law have underlined the far-reaching consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Karshan v. Revenue Commissioners, potentially impacting a wide array of businesses, companies, and workers across the Irish economy, which relies on thousands of contract and casual employees.

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