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‘Gig economy’ bike courier wins employment claim

A bike courier with the delivery service City Sprint has won the right to be classed as a worker rather than as self-employed.

 

Maggie Dewhirst, from London, worked for the firm for two years making healthcare deliveries. She is one of the growing number of people in the so called gig economy, being paid on a job by job basis rather than receiving a regular basic wage. It means she is not entitled to benefits such as holidays and sick pay, which would be available to her as a worker.

 

She brought a tribunal claim against City Sprint, arguing that she was not truly self-employed because she could not “pick and choose” which jobs to accept. She told the tribunal: “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.”

 

The tribunal found in her favour. The judge, Joanna Wade, said City Sprint’s contractual arrangements were “contorted, indecipherable and window-dressing”.

 

The tribunal’s decision only applies to Ms Dewhirst but it is the first of four challenges being taken against other courier companies, and follows a similar ruling involving the taxi service Uber last July. Upcoming cases against Addison Lee, Excel and eCourier should provide more guidance on the status of the self-employed in these and other industries.

 

Meanwhile, City Sprint has expressed disappointment at the tribunal decision and called on the government to clarify the law. A spokesman 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.” 

 

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.