10 January 2017
Following GMB’s landmark case against Uber in October 2016, another worker misclassified as self-employed has won the right to holiday pay, sick pay and the living wage.
A tribunal has ruled that Maggie Dewhurst, a courier for London’s CitySprint service, should be considered a “worker” rather than an independent contractor, and therefore eligible for employment rights of which she has so-far been deprived.
Calling the claimant’s contract as “contorted”, “indecipherable” and “window-dressing”, the tribunal noted: “It is CitySprint which has the power to regulate the amount of work available, and it keeps its couriers busy by limiting the size of the fleet.”
Maggie Dewhurst, who is also Chair of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain’s Couriers and Logistics Branch, said: “The Tribunal has shown CitySprint’s operation to be wilfully exploitative, and fuelled by an absurd set of incentives. The reality of a courier’s working life has been exposed; it’s a tough, physically and mentally demanding job, in a low-pay sector – we are not high-flying entrepreneurial executives. CitySprint and its rivals have been using the excuse that their couriers are entrepreneurs for many years, but this was found to be an artificial construction, and that couriers are in a subordinate position. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been playing the game like this, their time is now up.”
The Institute of Employment Rights proposes that a universal definition of “worker” is introduced to cover all people in employment so that anyone in work is eligible for the same employment rights from day one. We also recommend that wages and conditions are collectively bargained for at sectoral and enterprise levels and that the agreed terms should cover all “workers” to ensure that everybody employed within an individual industry will be treated fairly and equally regardless of the means through which they are employed.