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Third worker status case – CitySprint loses

After taking CitySprint to tribunal three times, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) calls on the government to clarify employment status laws.

The IWGB argued that five couriers were classified wrongly as independent contractors. They should have been classed as workers who were entitled to holiday pay.

In a tribunal which took place in 2017 between CitySprint vs Dewhurst, judge Joanna Wade said that the contractual arrangements from the company were ‘contorted, indecipherable and merely window dressing.’

Despite the 2017 ruling against them, CitySprint went ahead and issued new contracts.

The IWGB won a second case against them in 2019 when they successfully proved that even using the altered contracts, the workers were all entitled to TUPE protection.

TUPE – which stands for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations – is in place to protect employees should the business in which they are employed changes hands. TUPE requires the movement of employees and liabilities associated with them from the previous employer to the new employer by operation of law.

In the latest case the tribunal ruled that those couriers who worked before and after the change of contracts had rightful claims to holiday pay during both periods of employment.

One of the claimants, Phil Weber stated that many gig economy courier companies incorrectly classified their workers as independent self-employed contractors and denied them basic rights such as holiday pay and pension contributions.

Most workers, said Mr Weber, were afraid to stand up against this because they did not want to lose their jobs. There is hardly enough work to go around and little job security.

‘When we are united and fight together, things can turn out very differently.’

IWGB general secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee commented that gig economy companies like CitySprint made a mockery of the British legal system.

Should the law have been enforced and sanctions applied, CitySprint would never have acted as they did over their couriers’ rights.

Until the government begins to enforce the law, the IWGB intends to continue to ‘hold those cowboy companies to account.’

Commenting for CitySprint, a spokesperson said that the company was extremely disappointed with the ruling. CitySprint would be reviewing the case in detail before deciding to appeal.

CitySprint said that they believed that the judgement related to a small number of workers and occurred several years ago. It did not reflect the ‘positive relationship enjoyed by most of the couriers.’

In a separate claim, three couriers who were transferred from CitySprint to eCourier are claiming £44,000 for holiday pay because they were TUPE transferred and did not receive the benefits entitled to them.

Currently the Supreme Court is deliberating the employment status of the many Uber drivers in England.

This judgement- which will end the claim of Uber BV and others vs Aslam – will decide whether 45,000 London based drivers are classified as workers and therefore entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks, and the national minimum wage.

In October, at a final hearing, CitySprint’s financial liability will be established.

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