In another case focusing on the gig economy, the London Central Employment Tribunal has ruled that a CitySprint bike courier was a worker under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
In Dewhurst v CitySprint UK Ltd, the tribunal decided that Maggie Dewhurst was not self-employed and was instead a worker, despite her contract saying the opposite. Now Ms Dewhurst will receive employee rights given to other workers, such as holiday pay and sick pay. CitySprint will also need to pay Ms Dewhurst the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage. While this decision only affects one employee directly, many employees are likely to make similar claims following the decision.
In the decision, the tribunal focused on what was happening in reality and not the wording of the contract (actually entitled a “Confirmation of Tender to Supply Courier Services to CitySprint Ltd”). The tribunal was critical of CitySprint’s use of confusing wording and a tick box recruitment form for the terms of the employment.
The tribunal also considered a number of factors regarding Ms Dewhurst’s normal day, demonstrating that she was integral to the business and had no control of her own working day.
- starting her day by logging into the company tracking system to receive instructions and only logging out when she got home;
- wearing a uniform and following instructions to smile;
- the manner in which she was permitted to send a substitute to complete work, which was effectively no different from swapping roles with a colleague; and
- CitySprint calculating the payments due to her and paying her in arrears, rather than self-billing via invoices.
CitySprint has called on the government to provide better support and help for businesses across the UK. The government is due to report in the spring on modern working practices. Uber, which received a similar ruling in October 2016, intends to appeal the decision. With many courier companies likely to be in a similar position, it remains to be seen what will happen next with the gig economy.