An Employment Tribunal has confirmed that a courier, delivering items by bicycle, was a worker under the Employment Rights Act and was not a self employed contractor as she was labelled. This case has some similarities to the Uber case which was commented upon in a previous update.
In this case, couriers passing a recruitment process were provided with a “Confirmation of Tender to Supply Courier Services” document, confirming their purported status as self employed contractors. They were then requested to acknowledge some key terms electronically which confirmed that the courier did not have any obligation to provide services and the company did not have to provide work – a substitute could be provided (in theory, although this did not happen in practice) as long as they fulfilled the relevant criteria. The couriers would only get paid if they worked and they were not entitled to holiday pay, maternity pay or sick pay. The company stated that there was an invoice system for payment, however in practice payments were calculated and made automatically.
The Employment Tribunal held that the document did not reflect the true position between the parties. In reality, the courier in question was required to log into a tracking system when she was ‘on circuit’ and had to log out at the end of the day. She wore a uniform and received direction over the telephone and radios. She was told to provide a professional service and smile and was expected to work when she confirmed she would. The couriers did not have autonomy in terms of how they performed their services – the courier in question was found to have been integrated into the business.
The tribunal therefore held that the courier was a worker when she was logged into the tracking system and she therefore succeeded in her claim for two days’ paid holiday.
The case demonstrates that when considering the question of whether an individual is a worker or a self employed individual, the Tribunal will look behind the label and will consider the reality of the situation.
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