Delivery company CitySprint is the latest “gig economy” firm facing a legal challenge to treat its freelance couriers as workers.
Mags Dewhurst, a bicycle delivery rider who has made deliveries for the firm for more than two years, will argue at an employee tribunal today that she should be given worker status such as holiday pay and the national minimum wage.
CitySprint, which has 3,500 self-employed couriers in the UK, could face further claims from other workers if the tribunal favours Dewhurst.
“I’m taking this action because I have personal experience of [earning], and know many courier friends earn, below the national minimum wage. Our lives tend to be thrown into financial chaos when we want to go on holiday.
“Worker status will finally redress some of the balance between couriers and courier companies, and transform our lives for the better. These benefits have for too long been withheld by courier companies and only serve to make it easier for them to exploit their workforce. It is time to afford couriers some basic employment rights.”
Jason Moyer-Lee, the head of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which is backing the riders, said the point of the tribular was to test the status of the workers.
The tribunal follows in suit of similar cases that filled the news over the last year from taxi-hailing firm Uber, and delivery company Deliveroo.
Anna Humphrey, lawyer in the Tax and Incentives group at international law firm Taylor Wessing comments:
“From a tax perspective, the Government is concerned that a rise in the number of people who are considered by the businesses they are working for as self employed will impact (and perhaps is already impacting) negatively on tax revenues. This is primarily as a result of the different way that National Insurance works for the self employed compared with employees. In particular, the 13.8% employer National Insurance charge is a clear motivator for businesses to favour engaging self-employed persons rather than employees. The Office for Tax Simplification has been considering this since March and we would not be surprised to see an announcement from the Chancellor relating to reform in this area in his upcoming Autumn Statement. This increased scrutiny on employment status and potential changes to the way persons in the “gig economy” are taxed means that businesses are going to need to pay ever closer attention to ensure their policies and practices are fully compliant or risk challenges by HM Revenue & Customs, potentially leading to penalties and interest on incorrectly assessed tax as well as negatively impacting their public image.”
Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.