Parcelforce delivery drivers launch group lawsuit against Royal Mail 

Parcelforce delivery drivers belonging to the IWGB union are taking Royal Mail to court, arguing they have been wrongly denied basic rights

10 Apr 2024| News

Drivers who deliver packages for Parcelforce, a subsidiary of Royal Mail, are suing the company on grounds they have been misclassified in their employment status and wrongly denied workers’ rights. Thousands of Parcelforce drivers across the UK may be eligible to join the claim which, if successful, could force Royal Mail to pay out millions in compensation.

Until now, many of Parcelforce’s drivers have been labelled as self-employed ‘owner drivers’, with no right to the National Living Wage or other basic entitlements like holiday pay. Leigh Day, the law firm representing the drivers, believes they should in fact be classified as ‘workers’, which would entitle them to more rights going forward, and compensation for shortfalls in their pay up to now.

Allegations against Royal Mail first emerged when three drivers raised issues with their union, the Independent Workers of Great Britain. The IWGB supported the three drivers to lodge claims in the Employment Tribunal and obtain representation from major legal firm, Leigh Day. Believing there to be thousands of other drivers across the country facing the same issues, Leigh Day opened the case into a group claim.

The claim against Royal Mail comes after a landmark legal battle that Leigh Day and the IWGB fought against Uber. The dispute, which went to the Supreme Court in 2021, saw Uber drivers win classification as workers rather than self-employed contractors. This ruling set the groundwork for similar worker status disputes across the gig economy, giving Parcelforce drivers hope for a victory in their own case.

Marc Francis, who worked as an owner driver for Parcelforce for 10 years, says:

“I loved my job as a delivery driver, but doing it for Parcelforce was a living nightmare for me. Working without any rights or protections felt like walking a tightrope with no safety net to catch me if I fell. I didn’t get sick pay when I needed time off due to bowel disease and, in fact, Royal Mail deducted an additional £794 from my wages to cover the absence of 2 weeks. I think it’s disgusting how they treated me, but I know I’m not the only one. I’m committed to seeing justice for myself and all the other drivers affected by this issue at Parcelforce.”

The IWGB, the union representing the drivers, says:

“We believe that by claiming delivery drivers are self-employed, Parcelforce bosses have thrown their workers’ rights out the window. These drivers are the latest to join a long list of workers across a growing number of sectors whose basic protections have been completely eroded by the gig economy. Royal Mail’s shameful adoption of these exploitative practices must be challenged, and this lawsuit is giving thousands of workers that opportunity. We encourage owner drivers up and down the country to join the union and the claim – it’s time for Parcelforce to pay up.”

Liana Wood, a solicitor at Leigh Day acting for the drivers, says:

“In our view, Parcelforce drivers working for Royal Mail should be entitled to workers’ rights such as receiving holiday pay and being paid the national minimum wage.   Often these drivers have worked for Royal Mail for many years and seen their working conditions steadily decline and take home pay decrease, on top of a cost of living crisis.  We believe thousands of owner drivers are eligible to join the claim for workers’ rights.”