Union wins second major test case for couriers in the gig-economy
30 March 2017
The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has won its second major legal victory against companies that bogusly classify their workers as independent contractors.
The London Central Employment Tribunal has ruled that Excel was acting unlawfully by classifying bicycle courier Andrew Boxer as an independent contractor and denying him his holiday pay. The company was ordered to pay one weeks unpaid holiday pay.
The judge said that although Boxer provided his own “tools of the trade” he was not providing his services on his own account as a business undertaking and he was not entering into contracts for his business with clients. This conclusion was reached because, among other things:
- He signed a contract because he had no choice and there was no negotiation or tendering involved.
- The business model required him to work 5 days a week under the control of a controller.
- He was paid a fixed rate for his work which was non-negotiable and he played no part in computing the rate.
- While he enjoyed some flexibility this had to be by arrangement and with notice.
- He was expected to stay by in between jobs and if he wanted to move location he had to get permission from a controller.
- He was expected not to take a break when another job would come in and he was needed.
IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “This judgement is yet further evidence of what we have known to be true all along: courier companies are unlawfully depriving their workers of rights. As the tribunal dominoes continue to fall we would recommend that courier companies which are not yet subject to litigation by the IWGB urgently get their act together.”
Other IWGB courier cases
The IWGB simultaneously brought test cases against four courier companies – CitySprint, Excel, Addison Lee and Ecourier – on 22 March, 2016.
A hearing before the Central Arbitration Comittee to determine the employment status of Deliveroo riders has been set for 24 and 25 May and the union has also brought a test case against NHS pathology services provider The Doctor’s Laboratory.
The IWGB secured its first victory on 6 January when a judge ruled that CitySprint should have classified courier Maggie Dewhurst as a worker and ordered the company to pay two days unpaid holiday pay.
The hearings for the Ecourier and Addison Lee cases are expected in May and July, respectively.