Four bike couriers, who are considered by their companies as self-employed, are going to the employment tribunal to try and be declared as employees or workers.
One of the couriers, Andrew Boxer, says “I am typical. 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.”
“I get paid per delivery, not per hour. I am required to sign a contract which says that I am self-employed, which means I don’t get any employment rights”
Excel, the company he works for, said in response: “Within the London market, couriers operate as independent sub-contractors and I am confident that any tribunal will uphold this view.”
Jason Galbraith-Marten QC, who is representing the couriers, believes that the case could have an important impact on employee status in the labour market. He said:
“Couriers have been told that they are self-employed and they are put on contracts that describe them as self-employed.”
“A win for them would mean that a court had looked at the true circumstances under which they are working, and decided that they are not truly self-employed.”
“And that means others in similar circumstances can go to a court and say, ‘it doesn’t matter what it says on the contract, I am in fact a worker and can I have the same rights?’”
City Sprint, another of the respondent companies alongside Excel, said it believed the assertions regarding the couriers’ employment status were “unfounded.” A spokesperson from the company said:
“We are very proud of our fleet and offer them the opportunity to achieve among the highest earnings in the industry”.