The latest court victory for individuals working in the ‘gig economy’ should encourage businesses to review employment practices
Following on from last year’s ruling in favour of Uber drivers being identified as employed workers rather than self-employed, a tribunal this month has ruled that a CitySprint cycle courier should be classified as a worker in another victory for individuals over firms in the ‘gig economy’. The benefits of being classed as a worker include receiving holiday and sick pay, plus being paid the national living wage.
In the wake of the latest ruling employment lawyers are urging organisations to re-examine their business models and any potential implications. With more hearings pending this spring against similar courier companies such as Addison Lee and Excel, businesses using a similar model will have to be confidence that, if a claim is brought against them, they can fully justify an individual’s status if legally challenged.
There is a new willingness among courts to apply strict criteria as to what constitutes being self-employed. With the Government beginning to conduct a six month review into modern working practices and the HMRC establishing a new unit to investigate companies use of freelance and self-employed individuals.
The ruling that it was wrong to classify Maggie Dewhurst as a self-employed freelancer, although applying to her specific case, opens the door for the 3,500 other self-employed couriers in the UK to take broader action. Dewhurst, who still works for CitySprint, said this of the tribunal: “This wasn’t just about me – it was about people who have been working here for 20 years without any of these rights. CitySprint argued that we weren’t part of the company, but you cannot run a £145m courier businesses without employing a single courier.”