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Courier Company is Accused of Ignoring Employment Law

Courier Company is Accused of Ignoring Employment Law

London-headquartered courier firm CitySprint has been criticised after introducing a new contract that appears to circumvent a ruling on workers’ rights.

The company had dropped an appeal against a ruling by the central London employment tribunal that it had unlawfully failed to award holiday pay to cycle courier Mags Dewhurst and had wrongly classed her as a self-employed freelancer – but said it had changed contracts for all its cycle couriers.

The employment judge Joanna Wade, who dealt with Ms Dewhurt’s case, described CitySprint’s contractual arrangements as “contorted, indecipherable and window-dressing.” The tribunal ruled that she should be classed as a “worker” and ruled that she was entitled to paid holiday and the national minimum wage under employment law.

However, CitySprint said that the case was an “individual appeal” and that paid holiday and national minimum wage should not be provided to the other contractors working for the company.

Contracts more accurately reflect relationship with couriers

CitySprint suggested that its newly-drawn employment contracts were designed to more accurately reflect its relationship with the couriers who worked for the business, while indicating that there had been no changes to the way in which the company operated. The company is adamant that its workers had always worked for them as independent contractors.

“We have updated our [cycle] courier tender documents to simplify the language in these, further clarifying the rights and flexibilities available to self-employed couriers who provide their services to us. We enjoy a great relationship with couriers, who continue to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of their current role,” a CitySprint spokesperson said.

New contracts are ‘legal shenanigans,’ says courier

In response to CitySprint’s decision to issue new contracts in the light of losing the employment tribunal case against her, Ms Dewhurst said: “As a result of my tribunal claim, CitySprint has forced everyone at the penalty of losing our jobs to sign new documents they say are contracts, but we work in exactly the same way as before – nothing has changed. It’s a shame CitySprint would rather engage in legal shenanigans than pay me and my colleagues our holidays.”

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) criticised CitySprint’s response to the ruling and failure to provide employment benefits and rights for its workers. IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: “It is outrageous that CitySprint is choosing to simply flout the ruling of the employment tribunal. They are making a mockery of our system of employment rights and protections and they will pay a price for doing so. It goes to show that in the absence of government enforcement of employment law, companies will try to act with total impunity.”

Courier ‘blacklisted’ after winning employment rights court case

Meanwhile, a cycle courier in the gig economy says he has been blacklisted for campaigning for workers’ rights. Andrew Boxer had already been offered a job at Addison Lee when staff at the London-based courier firm said he could not work for them after they realised he had won an employment tribunal case against Excel over holidays and minimum wage, according to his union.

Managers at Addison Lee reportedly told Mr Boxer they could not risk him taking a similar case against them, and asked whether there was an ulterior motive behind him signing up for the company. Mr Boxer is being supported by the IWGB, which says it will take legal action against Addison Lee for “trade union victimisation and blacklisting.”

Jason Moyer-Lee, the general secretary of the IWGB, said: “Addison Lee has once again shown the extremes to which it is prepared to go in order to deny basic rights to its low-paid workers.” In a statement, Addison Lee said the company “is committed to fair and respectful treatment of all its contractors . . . We are now reviewing the matter.”

Contact our employment lawyers for expert advice

Our Employment team provides advice on the employment aspects of all major business decisions including the creation of fair employment policies and contracts for employees and the self employed. For expert advice please contact a member of the team on 01895 207892. Alternatively email your details to employment@ibblaw.co.uk.