In the latest decision concerning employment status in the ‘gig economy’, an employment tribunal has held that a CityLink courier was a worker, qualifying for paid holiday and other working time entitlements.
Dewhurst v CitySprint UK Ltd, ET
The claimant, D, was a cycle courier who typically worked four days a week for CitySprint in London. She used her own bicycle but was expected to wear a CitySprint uniform and was provided with induction training by the company. Once she logged on to the company’s electronic tracking system she was assigned with delivery jobs by the company’s controllers. She was permitted to choose her own route for each job. Payments were made direct into D’s bank account at the end of each week, calculated according to how many deliveries she had made.
Couriers are recruited by CitySprint under the terms of a document titled ‘Confirmation of Tender to Supply Courier Services’, purporting to treat the couriers as self-employed contractors. The document states that CitySprint is not required to provide work to couriers, and they are under no obligation to accept any work offered. It also includes a detailed substitution provision, permitting the courier to send a substitute to carry out the work in his or her place, provided the substitute meets certain criteria.
D claimed that she was a ‘worker’ and therefore was entitled to be paid in respect of two days of holiday she had taken.
The tribunal was satisfied that D was a ‘worker’ for each of the periods she was logged on to the tracking device, meaning that she was entitled to working time rights including paid holiday. It did not accept that the company’s contractual documentation accurately reflected the reality of the arrangement with the couriers. The wording of the document, in particular the prescriptive wording of the substitution clause, lead the tribunal to conclude that it was the work of an ‘army of lawyers’. However, the reality of the working arrangement made it clear that she was integrated into the business.
This decision follows last year’s tribunal decision relating to the employment status of Uber drivers, which likewise concluded that the drivers were ‘workers’.
The employment Judge in this case is careful to restrict his conclusions as relating to this individual claimant, but clearly this decision could have much broader application to other CitySprint couriers and for those engaged in providing similar services.
With a number of other similar cases still in the pipeline, it would now be helpful to have some appellate guidance. Permission to appeal the decision in the Uber case was lodged before Christmas, so it is likely that we will see an appeal being heard by the EAT later this year.
The content of this article is for general information only. For further information regarding employment status please contact a member of Birketts’ Employment Law Team. Law covered as at January 2017.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at January 2017.