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Blood, sweat and tears, but no holiday pay?

BY Laura Bremner
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

Hot on the heels of Smith v Pimlico Plumbers Ltd comes another case of ‘self-employed’ contractors seeking clarity on their employment status. 


Cyclists, motorcyclists and van drivers who deliver emergency blood supplies and passports are seeking to raise employment tribunal claims, arguing that they are employees not self-employed contractors. The couriers provide courier services for the Doctors Laboratory, which supports the NHS with pathology services.


The case is currently in ACAS conciliation, (a mandatory preliminary step which must be taken prior to raising a claim) however the couriers are likely to raise claims should conciliation fail to resolve these issues.  Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain said that the TDL case was “a black and white example of bogus employment status”.  


The question of status is becoming an increasingly important one in light of the emerging ‘gig economy’. Many who dip their feet in the gig economy pool contract with service providers on what may appear at first sight to be a ‘self-employed’ basis.


Those who are truly self-employed have no employment rights, other than protection from discrimination. Workers however are the next step up within the status hierarchy, and are entitled to rights such as holiday pay, national minimum wage and rest breaks. Employees are entitled to the full suite of employment rights, including the right to raise a claim for unfair dismissal and the right to redundancy payments.


This case may well follow in the footsteps of the other ‘gig economy’ cases before it; these ‘self-employed persons may, in reality, be workers. Only time will tell; and ultimately only an employment tribunal can decide upon the employment status of an individual.


The timing of the couriers raising this action is apt given that the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee held its first hearing into ‘The future world of work and rights of workers earlier this month.


If you have a query on employment status, please contact your Employment Solicitor or HR Consultant to discuss.

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