Bike Courier Wins Significant ‘Gig’ Economy Case

Bike Courier Wins Significant 'Gig' Economy Case

Employment Lawyers Provide Comment

A courier with logistics company, City Sprint, has won an employment rights case in a ruling which could have widespread implications for the ‘gig economy’.

The Tribunal found that Maggie Dewhurst should be classed as a worker rather than self-employed and should therefore be entitled to basic rights including holiday and sick pay and the national living wage.

The decision will only apply to Ms Dewhurst and follows a similar landmark ruling against Uber in October last year which found that drivers should be classed as workers rather than self-employed. Uber announced in December that it will appeal the decision.

Ms Dewhurst, who had been with City Sprint for the past two years and was classed by the company as self-employed, said: “We spend all day being told what to do, when to do it and how to do it. We’re under their control. We’re not a mosaic of small businesses and that’s why we deserve basic employment rights like the national minimum wage.”

She added: “I’m delighted that the tribunal ruled in our favour as it has set a legal and moral precedent which others can use to make similar claims.”

Commenting on the tribunal ruling, City Sprint said: “This case has demonstrated that there is still widespread confusion regarding this area of law, which is why we are calling on the government to provide better support and help for businesses across the UK who could be similarly affected.”

Expert Opinion

“This case appears to boil down to the question of control. The Tribunal was prepared to look straight through the wording of the contract and examine closely what was really happening in practice.”

“The expectation that the employee would work when she said she would, that she would be directed what to do during her “on circuit” time, the obligation to smile, the control over when she would be paid and the use of the company calculations of her pay all pointed away from a typical self-employed situation.”

“The case is yet further support for the line of reasoning in the Uber case that when attempts are made by careful contractual drafting to cover up a true worker relationship, the employment tribunal will be ready to dig into the detail and disregard express contractual provisions. This is yet another decision that sends out a clear message about the rights of those working in the ‘gig’ economy.”

“What remains to be seen is the impact that cases like this will have on the viability of the growing gig economy model. If companies are forced to honour worker entitlements, will the added expense mean that the profitability simply isn’t there for this type of industry? What may seem like another victory for an individual here, could well turn out to be another hurdle for the continued survival of this way of working.”

Alan Lewis,
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David Shirt

David Shirt

David provides PR support to Irwin Mitchell’s business legal teams across all of its offices.

He manages thought leadership campaigns and regularly works with national broadcast, print and trade media in relation to key business issues.

In addition to providing the media with timely business legal comment on breaking news stories throughout the day, David works closely with Head of Communications, Mark Duffell, and handles requests for information regarding the Irwin Mitchell Group. He is also the main media contact for Irwin Mitchell Group company Ascent.

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