Last reviewed 13 August 2020

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has claimed victory over CitySprint after contesting a case in the employment tribunal for a third time.

The union was seeking to establish worker status and basic employment rights for five of its members who work for the company as couriers.

The IWGB argued that they were misclassified as independent contractors, rather than “limb (b) workers” and were consequently entitled to holiday pay.

IWGB has already won cases against City Sprint in 2017 and 2019 and then contested that the firm changed workers’ contracts rather than comply with the ruling that they were entitled to holiday pay and minimum wage.

The latest employment tribunal ruling has confirmed that the couriers were workers both prior to and after the change of contracts and therefore have a rightful claim to holiday pay during both periods.

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, IWGB General Secretary, said: “City Sprint and other ‘gig economy’ companies are making a mockery of the British legal system. If the law were enforced and sanctions were real, City Sprint wouldn’t have dreamed of simply acting like it hadn’t already lost a tribunal claim over its couriers’ workers’ rights.”

CitySprint’s financial liability will be established at a final hearing in October.

A separate £43,668 holiday pay claim is being made against Royal Mail-owned eCourier on behalf of three couriers that were TUPE transferred from CitySprint.

Limb b

The term “limb (b)” comes from s.230 (3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 where a worker is defined as an individual who works under:

  1. a contract of employment

  2. any other contract, whether expressed or implied and (if it is expressed) whether oral or in writing, whereby the individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract whose status is not by virtue of the contract that of a client or customer of any profession or business undertaking carried on by the individual.

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director of Advisory Kate Palmer

The law governing employment status can arguably be confusing and seemingly interchangeable, and employers across all industries may find that they too are falling short of their obligations with regards to this, especially since there have been quite a few cases going to tribunal courts regarding employment status.

Employers may therefore use the judgment in this case, as well as other cases, as a benchmark for determining what constitutes employment status and the rights pertaining to each one.

It remains to be seen, though, if the Government will provide further legal guidance on employment status; for now, companies should look to case outcomes such as this for guidance.