Just last month, an employment tribunal in London held a bicycle courier was not self-employed,
but instead should be classified as a worker under English law.
Consequently, Maggie Dewhurst, who brought suit against UK courier
CitySprint, was entitled to two days of holiday pay. The decision
comes only months after a Central London Employment Tribunal
ruled for Uber drivers, and at a time when it is estimated that
one in seven British workers are
self-employed. It is the continuation of a worrying trend that
American businesses might want to pay attention to as preview into
how things might be decided on this side of the pond.
CitySprint employs more than 3,500 couriers in the UK alone and
utilizes an app for booking courier requests. Dewhurst worked for
CitySprint for two years and was classified as self-employed.
Dewhurst was required to wear an employee uniform and GPS
technology tracked her location. She alleged she had very little
control over her work day, and thus, deserved employment rights
guaranteed to "workers," including paid holidays and a
minimum wage. The judge ultimately agreed with Dewhurst and
criticized CitySprint's contractual arrangements with its
couriers as "contorted," indecipherable," and
While the ruling only applies to Ms. Dewhurst, four other
couriers have also brought suit. To the likely dismay of these
businesses, all of these cases will be heard by the same judge. Ms.
Dewhurst's lawyers, meanwhile, have predicted "thousands of couriers across
London" will soon come forward with similar claims. In
light of this decision, gig companies like CitySprint have called
on the government to provide some clarity in this ever-changing
area of the law. Late last year, Prime Minister Theresa May
requested an independent review of "modern
employment" in the UK. Due sometime in the spring, the review
may provide an inkling as to how 10 Downing Street plans to address
a system of laws many argue are not adapting to the times.
Businesses in the UK and the US should follow these developments,
as they may end up impacting a broader spectrum of classification
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In SSE Generation Limited v Hochtief Solutions AG and another decided on 21st December 2016, the Court of Session in Scotland considered a contractor's potential design liability under the NEC Form of Contract.
Case law concerning the Agency Worker Regulations remains limited. We recently advised a recruitment business involved in a dispute with a "temp" and a hirer regarding who was liable for an alleged breach of AWR Regulation 5.
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