Following our recent blog regarding the employment status of Uber drivers, another Claimant working in the “gig economy” has successfully established that she is a worker in a similar type of case.
Dewhurst v CitySprint UK Ltd concerned a bicycle courier engaged by CitySprint, purportedly on a self-employed basis. Ms Dewhurst claimed that she is in fact a worker and therefore entitled to rights including holiday pay, sick pay and maternity pay.
CitySprint operates a service delivering goods in the city of London: work carried out by 50 to 60 couriers like Ms Dewhurst. They log on to an app which tracks their whereabouts and allows them to be assigned jobs. It was evidenced in the tribunal that couriers relationship with CitySprint purported to be regulated by a document referred to as a “Confirmation of Tender to Supply Courier Services”. At the time of signing this, the couriers are required to complete an electronic checklist which contains confirmation of further terms, including that they are not entitled to holiday, sick or maternity pay, are under no obligation to work, that CitySprint have no obligation to provide them with work and that they can send a substitute in their absence: terms which would generally suggest that a person is self-employed, rather than a worker or an employee (see our blog on the Uber decision for further information on the distinction).
The tribunal considered the terms of the contractual documentation and evidence on the working relationship in practice and found that the terms of the Tender document did not reflect the true relationship between the parties. The tribunal found that Ms Dewhurst has been recruited by CitySprint to do work for it and in practice had little autonomy to decide the way in which her services were provided. The tribunal took into account factors including:
The tribunal’s judgment was therefore that Ms Dewhurst was a worker during any period in which she was logged into CitySprint’s tracking system.
This is the first of four similar cases against cycle couriers which are to be heard by the Employment Tribunal, and this decision, together with that in the Uber case, gives an indication of the direction in which the law is heading. These cases highlight that the issue of employment status is complex and a subject of increasing dispute. However, in setting precedent and clarifying the legal position it is the decisions of the appeal courts which are key, and it remains to be seen if any of these cases will reach that stage and, where they do, what guidance the higher courts will offer.
If you would like more information on the above matter or any other employment law issue, contact our employment solicitors today.