Rise Of Individuals Working Under Self-Employed Status Challenge Their Rights
Lawyers at national law firm Irwin Mitchell say they have seen an increase in individuals engaged on self-employed contracts challenging their status, in light of bike couriers bid for a tribunal to protect rights.
Four bicycle couriers are taking their companies to an employment tribunal in a bid to get employed workers’ rights, and if successful, the case could have a huge impact on the growing numbers of workers who are categorised as self-employed.
Despite working for one firm for approximately 50 hours a week, the four London couriers are classified as self-employed contractors, and are normally paid £2 to £3 per delivery, and are not paid per hour.
With the support of their union, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, the four couriers are taking Excel, as well as City Sprint, Addison Lee and eCourier, to the employment tribunal and are seeking declaration that their status is either ‘employee’ or ‘workers’, which entitles them to benefits and rights, such as holiday pay.
Jenny Arrowsmith, employment lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said:
Expert Opinion“We have seen an increase in the numbers of cases being brought by individuals engaged on self-employed contracts seeking to challenge their status in order to obtain valuable employment rights, such as the right to paid holiday and receive the national minimum wage rates etc. These often involve vulnerable workers in fairly low paid jobs.
“The rights of these couriers will be determined by reference to the reality of their working relationship and not by what is set out in a written agreement. Employment tribunals and courts can set aside express contractual terms which are inconsistent with the reality of the relationship of the parties.er
“A few years ago, the Supreme Court examined the status of a group of car valets engaged on self-employed basis and found that they were, in fact, workers. It said that individuals may be considered by HMRC to be self-employed for tax purposes, but they can still be considered to be workers and obtain employment protection.
Jenny Arrowsmith - Partner