Employer denied couriers their holiday entitlements by falsely claiming that they are independent contractors, the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain says
A union representing gig economy workers has filed a legal claim for £200,000 of unpaid holiday pay against courier company CitySprint.
The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) says CitySprint denied couriers their holiday entitlements by falsely claiming that they are independent contractors, instead of workers or employees.
An employment tribunal ruled in January 2017 that CitySprint courier Maggie Dewhurst was a worker, meaning she was entitled to basic rights including holiday and sick pay and the national living wage.
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In November, CitySprint was accused by the IWGB of delivering a “slap in the face” to the English legal system by issuing a newly worded contract to describe the same employment relationship so that it could continue to classify its couriers as independent contractors.
The union argues that the 20 CitySprint couriers it is representing have or had the same employment relationship with the company as Ms Dewhurst and are consequently workers, entitled to the minimum wage, holiday pay and other rights.
A separate £43,668.86 holiday pay claim has been filed against Royal Mail-owned eCourier on behalf of three couriers who were transferred from CitySprint. The claims cover a period stretching back to January 1999.
Ms Dewhurst, who is a claimant in the case and vice-president of the IWGB said that going on holiday is becoming increasingly difficult for couriers because costs continue but pay stops.
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“So despite the myth peddled by employers that gig economy jobs are flexible, many of us are spending more time at work than full-time employees,” she said.
“That's why with this case we are not only trying to claim back what we are owed, but securing paid holidays going forward.”
The case is the latest to challenge the treatment of people designated independent contractors in the UK’s gig economy.
It follows a decision last year by Europe’s top court ruling that a man who worked as a sash window salesman on a commission-only basis should have been paid for annual leave and was able to claim the unpaid sum for the thirteen years that he had worked for the company.
IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “For most workers booking your holiday requires filling out a form and a sign-off from your manager, at CitySprint it requires an employment tribunal every time.
“The fact that CitySprint can get away with this makes an absolute mockery of the UK employment law regime.”