Gig economy: Bicycle courier entitled to holiday pay

Readers will recall the Uber judgment back in October 2016 which determined that the drivers were entitled to holiday pay and the national minimum wage. The Uber case has been seen as one which could pave the way for significant changes in the ‘gig’ economy.

The latest case in the gig economy has just had judgment delivered and found, once again, in favour of the claimant. In Dewhurst v City Sprint (UK), Ms Dewhurst was a cycle courier and she sought to claim two days’ holiday pay from City Sprint.

The Employment Judge carefully analysed the written contract between the Ms Dewhurst and the courier company. The agreed written contractual terms are important since they included the usual terms to ensure flexibility on both sides:

  • There was no obligation on the courier company to offer work to Ms Dewhurst
  • Ms Dewhurst could reject any jobs that were offered to her
  • Ms Dewhurst could offer a substitute if she were not available
  • Ms Dewhurst could work for any other business

In addition, the Judge looked at how Ms Dewhurst worked day to day and this found:

  • Ms Dewhurst tended to work established days and hours
  • Ms Dewhurst did not in fact work for any other business
  • Ms Dewhurst was paid weekly in arrears and was not obliged to submit any invoices
  • Analysis of the courier’s website (which they no doubt used to win new business from customers) referred to each courier being fully trained. The Judge found that this was not compatible with the written contract between the courier company and Ms Dewhurst that she could offer a substitute if she were not available to accept work.

In light of the above, the Judge determined that Ms Dewhurst was entitled to the two days’ holiday pay.

It is important to highlight that this case does not set a precedent and that each case does depend on its’ own facts.  However, it does offer a further example of individuals claiming basic employment rights (holiday pay, minimum wage etc). Given that City Sprint engages over 3,000 such couriers, the financial impact is likely to be very significant for them.

What lessons can be learned? It is important that if an organisation uses individuals on these types of contracts, businesses should be braced for the contracts to be challenged and rights sought. If successful, this will have a financial impact.

So, the key messages are:

  • Consider an audit to ensure that current written terms are up to date and less likely to be challenged
  • Ensure contracts are correctly drafted by an expert who is able to advise and incorporate the recent challenges
  • Ensure contracts reflect the true circumstances of how the business operates
  • Ensure websites and insurance policies do not contradict the terms of engagement with the individuals


Disclaimer

This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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