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Cycle courier tribunal finds company unlawfully held back employee benefits

'Gig economy' workers can't necessarily be considered self-employed, landmark ruling finds...

A cycle courier who fought a legal battle to be entitled to holiday and sick pay has said she may have changed the course of the so-called ‘gig economy’.

Maggie Dewhurst, a courier with logistics firm City Sprint, was found by a tribunal to have the same rights as an employed worker, rather than being classed as self-employed.

She said that she had been with City Sprint for the past two years, during which time the company classed her as an "independent contractor", or self-employed.

But she argued that she was actually entitled to basic rights including holiday and sick pay and the national living wage.

City Sprint said that it would be reviewing the ruling, and was disappointed at the outcome, according to BBC News.

The ruling now opens the doors to thousands of other supposedly casual workers who may want to challenge their employers.

City Sprint said: "This case has demonstrated that there is still widespread confusion regarding this area of law, which is why we are calling on the government to provide better support and help for businesses across the UK who could be similarly affected.”

Maggie said: ”We spend all day being told what to do, when to do it and how to do it. We're under their control. We're not a mosaic of small businesses and that's why we deserve basic employment rights like the national minimum wage.”

The tribunal said that as Maggie was in fact an employee, the firm unlawfully failed to pay her for two days' holiday.

Paul Jennings, a partner at law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite which represented Ms Dewhurst, said: "Until now couriers have occupied a vulnerable position.

“They carry out physically demanding work, in dangerous conditions, but cannot take paid leave. In the wake of this judgement, we expect to that thousands of couriers across the capital will look to assert their rights and seek back pay."

In October last year we reported how after a landmark case ruling Uber drivers cannot be classed as self-employed and are entitled to a living wage and holiday pay, a solicitor firm was taking on a claim on behalf of Deliveroo riders.

Leigh Day solicitors, who successfully brought the case, which led to a UK employment court ruling Uber drivers are employees and therefore entitled to the national living wage and holiday pay, have confirmed they are “exploring bringing a claim on behalf of Deliveroo drivers”, including those who cycle to deliver food from restaurants to customers.

Deliveroo, like Uber, uses drivers whose contracts describe them as self-employed, meaning riders may not be paid the minimum wage, and are not entitled to sick pay, holiday pay or pensions. However, the terms of those contracts, and how they describe the working relationship between rider, company and customer, differ.

Annie Powell, a Solicitor at Leigh Day, told road.cc: “It is very early days, we haven’t issued a claim but we are exploring bringing a claim on behalf of Deliveroo drivers”.

This includes delivery cyclists, though Powell would not say how many were involved.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

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