IWGB Launches Worker Status Claim against Ride-Hailing App Bolt

Like those working at Uber, the IWGB argues that Bolt drivers should be classified as limb (b) workers and legally entitled to holiday pay.

7 Oct 2022| News

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) yesterday launched a claim on the behalf of one driver for backdated holiday pay on the basis that the claimant was unlawfully misclassified as an independent contractor. Like those working at Uber, the IWGB argues that Bolt drivers should be classified as limb (b) workers and legally entitled to holiday pay. Law firm Leigh Day, in partnership with the IWGB, today launches a separate group claim.

Limb (b) worker status is different from employment status. Limb (b) worker status enables drivers to work flexibly, logging onto the app whenever they like and choosing which jobs to accept. However, unlike independent contractor status, limb (b) workers are entitled to basic rights like guaranteed minimum earnings, holiday pay, and protection from discrimination.

Estonian-based company Bolt uses a similar business model to Uber, and has approximately 65,000 drivers working for the firm across the UK. Founded in 2013, Bolt was valued at $8.4 billion earlier this year, though it reported losses of €547 million in 2021.

This claim is the latest in a series of landmark legal challenges across the gig-economy, following the Supreme Court ruling over Uber last year, and the recent announcement that the IWGB will challenge Deliveroo in the Supreme Court over collective bargaining rights.

In February this year, private hire drivers from the IWGB launched a campaign against the company’s failure to implement basic driver safety features, following the tragic killing of Bolt driver Gabriel Bringye on the job last year.

Amadou Diallo, Bolt Driver and Lead Claimant, says:

“I value flexible working. In theory, it gives me time to see my family and be in control of my own life. That being said, flexibility without rights means nothing. With pay often below minimum wage in real terms, and with a lack of holiday pay, I am forced to work long hours every single day, not leaving me enough time to see my children and live my life. It seems obvious to me that I should be entitled to basic rights and protections. I am not in control of the rides that come to me, I cannot promote myself, seek more work or set my own fees. All the work I do is for Bolt, and I deserve basic rights in return.”

Nader Awaad, Chair of the United Private Hire Drivers’ Branch (IWGB), says:

“We all know how much drivers value flexibility, but we should not allow this to come at the expense of basic worker rights and protections. Because Bolt drivers are wrongfully misclassified as independent contractors, they are denied holiday pay and forced to endure wages that are often, in real terms, below minimum wage. Limb (b) worker status would ensure that drivers have both flexibility and rights.

Across the gig-economy, we are witnessing a series of landmark legal challenges as the law finally catches up with companies that exploit legal loopholes and treat their workers as disposable. But as drivers working for Uber know, worker status must be backed up with an organised workforce, ready to campaign and fight to ensure we have both the flexibility and the rights we deserve.”

More here.