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Self-employed courier wins battle to be recognised as a ‘worker’

One of four similar cases being brought by the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain...

The London Central Employment Tribunal has ruled that the courier firm Excel was acting unlawfully by classifying bicycle courier Andrew Boxer as an independent contractor and denying him holiday pay. The firm – which is in liquidation and now operating as part of CitySprint – was ordered to pay one week’s unpaid holiday pay.

Boxer, who was considered self-employed, argued that he should have been entitled to holiday pay, guaranteed minimum wage and protection against discrimination.

Excel initially offered to pay the claim for holiday pay "without acceptance of the validity of the claimant's claim," but Boxer rejected this.

Speaking in April, he explained his working arrangement. “I work for one company for around 50 hours a week. They tell me what to do, when to do it and how to do it. I am monitored, have to have company ID with me at all times, and can't take work from other companies.”

Boxer told the tribunal that he could not turn down work during a shift or take time off without prior arrangement.

He said he could recall only one occasion when he had turned down a delivery, after working for around eight hours in rain and intermittent snow.

“I simply did not have the energy and physical resource to pick [offered work] up,” he said. “It would have been dangerous to have carried on.”

Boxer said that as a result of that decision, he was told that he could expect not to be given time off to attend auditions for acting work when he needed it.

Referring to whether his contract could have been changed, he said: “I had no choice, it would not have made any difference, they would have laughed at me if I had challenged a particular clause.”

The judge concluded that although Boxer provided his own “tools of the trade” he was not providing his services on his own account as a business undertaking and he was not entering into contracts for his business with clients.

The case was one of four brought by the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB) in March last year, the other three being against CitySprint, Addison Lee and Ecourier.

Reacting to the decision, Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, the IWGB general secretary, said: "This judgement is yet further evidence of what we have known to be true all along: courier companies are unlawfully depriving their workers of rights. As the tribunal dominoes continue to fall we would recommend that courier companies which are not yet subject to litigation by the IWGB urgently get their act together."

In January, a judge ruled that CitySprint should have classified courier Maggie Dewhurst as a worker and ordered the company to pay two days’ unpaid holiday pay.

The hearings for the Ecourier and Addison Lee cases are expected in May and July, respectively.

A hearing before the Central Arbitration Committee to determine the employment status of Deliveroo riders has been set for May 24 and 25.

The union has also brought a test case against NHS pathology services provider The Doctor's Laboratory.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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