Gig-economy – Legal action launched in latest case of ‘forced self-employment’

Union GMB has announced it will start legal action on behalf of members working as couriers for delivery company, DX. The union says that legal action will be taken with the aim of securing rights on pay, holidays, health and safety, discipline and grievances, on behalf of members who work as couriers and drivers for DX.

GMB has announced it will start legal action on behalf of members working as couriers for delivery company, DX.

The union says that legal action will be taken with the aim of securing rights on pay, holidays, health and safety, discipline and grievances, on behalf of members who work as couriers and drivers for DX.

Maria Ludkin, GMB legal director says: “Just like Uber, DX is using forced self-employment as a reason not to pay holiday pay and in some situations, pay below the minimum wage. All our members want is basic employment rights as are enjoyed by the majority, including the right to be paid a minimum wage and holiday pay.”

Comparing the new action to previous cases, GMB points to the employment tribunal ruling in October 2016, which found that drivers who brought a claim against Uber were workers and that Uber was wrong to label them as self-employed – a decision which Uber has appealed.

DX Couriers are currently classed as ‘self-employed’, says GMB and are not entitled to basic employment rights such as minimum wage, holiday or sick pay. It says that like Uber drivers, arguably DX drivers should be classed as workers and therefore eligible to better workers’ rights.

The factors to consider, according to GMB include how the company interviews and recruits drivers; sets the volume of their work; requires drivers to use their own handheld device; sets the price for each delivery; produces invoices and handles complaints for the drivers and gets them to find their own holiday cover.

“These drivers are effectively working full-time for one company without many of the basic employment rights enjoyed by employed workers,” says Ludkin.

This new legal action comes just ahead of a tribunal due to begin on 24 May looking at whether Deliveroo riders are workers or self-employed. The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, which is bringing that case claims that Deliveroo wrongly classes couriers as independent contractors rather than workers.

If the tribunal finds that Deliveroo riders are workers, they will be entitled to the national minimum wage, paid holiday and sick pay.

In further gig-economy news, delivery companies reportedly charge their self-employed couriers up to £250 a day if they are off sick and cannot find someone to cover their shift.

The reports about companies Parcelforce and DPD include accounts of drivers not only not receiving sick pay (as they are classed as self-employed) but having to pay the company money for a substitute driver when they were unwell.

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