30 June 2017
In the latest in a string of cases contesting the employment status of people taking jobs as part of the so-called “gig economy”, an NHS blood service provider has admitted its couriers were unlawfully misclassified as “independent contractors”.
The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) has responded to a claim brought by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, saying that its couriers should in fact be classified as “workers” and therefore eligible for worker’s rights including minimum wage and holiday pay.
The five couriers that brought the original claim are now waiting to receive the holiday pay the firm agrees they are owed.
However, the union plans to go further by pushing ahead with its claim that the couriers are in fact “employees”. This would provide them with access to the full suite of rights, including the right to claim unfair dismissal after two years of continuous employment and sick pay.
“TDL’s recent admission of unlawful behaviour is further evidence of two trends in the so-called gig economy. First that there has been widespread and rampant denial of employment rights with no consequence. But second, that worker status is inevitable once these companies are challenged. This is now the second company to admit to unlawful behaviour in this area and we expect many more to follow in the coming months,” Dr Jason Mayor-Lee, General Secretary of IWGB, said.
“In TDL’s case, however, worker status is not good enough, these couriers are employees. TDL would be wise to admit to the full extent of its behaviour and not try to weasel out of the situation on the cheap.”
IWGB is also preparing a second case against TDL to recoup holiday pay it argues is owed to dozens more couriers.
The Institute of Employment Rights argues that the unlawful misclassification of workers can be avoided by introducing a new universal employment status that provides all people in employment with the full suite of rights from day one.
This is just one the recommendations we make in our Manifesto for Labour Law, which acted as the blueprint for the Labour Party’s proposals on workers’ rights in its General Election Manifesto 2017.