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        Cycle Couriers - Workers Or Self Employed Contractors?

        Recently reported in the news is the debate, should cycle couriers be deemed as workers or self-employed contractors? This will be looked at further below.

        This question has come to light in recent weeks as four bicycle couriers have taken their ‘employers’ to the employment tribunal in a public effort to be recognised as a worker and therefore be entitled to rights that accompany employee’s, such as paid holidays and the national minimum wage. The current position is that thousands of cycle couriers working throughout the Country are being wrongly classified as self-employed workers despite many individual courier’s working for a particular company for more than 50 hours per week; thereby realistically preventing them from participating in any other employment, in particular, couriering for a competitor.

        The response from all mentioned courier companies is that these claims are unfounded and that these particular couriers operate as independent sub-contractors and they are confident that the Tribunal will uphold this view.

        Bicycle couriers are hard to miss within the City of London, weaving their way through the traffic jams to earn around £3.00 per delivery. At the upcoming tribunal, the cyclist’s will be seeking a verdict that they are deemed as being employed or that they are a worker. Either of these titles will entitle them to the relevant rights and benefits, such as paid holidays.

        The cyclist’s rely on the following elements of their job to establish their argument that they are employee’s, namely:

        1. the company tells the individuals what to do in relation to each job,
        2. they tell the individuals when to do it and
        3. they tell the individuals how to do their job, in addition to
        4. how much they will get paid for each job undertaken.

        These specific instructions are usual criteria when identifying an employee, however at the outset of each individual beginning their ‘employment’, they are required to sign a contract stating that they are self-employed.

        This will be a landmark decision by the Tribunal as the Court will have looked at the Contract that the individual couriers have signed at the outset and determine whether, even though the wording of the contract states they are independent sub-contractors, the meaning behind the contract indicates they are in fact employees and are entitled to greater benefits. The results of this Tribunal will be followed carefully by many couriers and other ‘bogusly self-employed’ workers within the UK and commented on further when released.

        Gemma Ball

        Paralegal