More than 100 estate agents are preparing legal action against Purplebricks

20 October 2021

Contractors for Justice (C4J) are calling for property agents that have been contracted by Purplebricks to come forward and join the claim. If the claim is successful, and self-employed contractors are found to be treated as employees, then workers could be eligible to receive holiday and pension payments.

Purplebricks operated a business model that utilises self-employed territory owners who look after a large geographical area with local property experts working under them.

Following the recent success of claims against companies such as Uber, Addison Lee and Amazon, C4J are aiming to gather over 2,500 property agents for their claim. C4J are looking for workers who meet any of the three below criterias:

•    Working under the supervision, direction or control of another person
•    Being provided with equipment, such as a laptop
•    Being required to pre-book holidays

Peter Fletcher, a consultant for C4J, estimates the claim to be worth between £20 million to £100 million, with each agent potentially being owed thousands of pounds each. 

Fletcher stated “HMRC and the courts are clear that just designating your staff as self-employed does not mean that you may operate those workers as employees in all but name just to save the company from paying holiday pay, statutory pension contributions and so on. In recent cases involving Amazon and Uber it’s been found that self-employed contractors were in fact workers in the eyes of the law”.

According to a Purplebricks spokesperson, it was ‘clear’ that the individuals were “running their own business” and were self-employed. Adding “All territory operators entered into a commercial licence agreement, and this was clearly set out in their contract with Purplebricks. We have always taken legal advice in regards to our licensing model – and the advice is very clear that these individuals were operating as limited companies, running their own business and with full control over their own staff.”

As the gig economy grows, and employment status case law continues to set new precedence, claims such as this will continue to be brought forward. As judgements are made, and the law clarifies where a worker is seen to be employed, companies must adapt to remain compliant.

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