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October Employment Bulletin – Gig economy

Worker status is a hot topic in the gig economy, which offers ad-hoc work in the form of taxi rides, food delivery and courier services, to name a few. Workers are entitled to certain employment Read more...

Worker status is a hot topic in the gig economy, which offers ad-hoc work in the form of taxi rides, food delivery and courier services, to name a few. Workers are entitled to certain employment rights such as the national minimum wage and paid holiday, whereas the genuinely self-employed are not. 

Section 230(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 defines a worker as someone who works under a contract of employment or another contract ‘where the individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work…for another party who…is not…a client or customer of…the individual’. Case law has expanded on this definition and looked at issues such as mutuality of obligation, control, integration into the business and personal service.

Various questions were referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) in the case of B v Yodel. The claimant was a courier who delivered parcels for Yodel. He used his own vehicle and mobile phone, wore no uniform and carried no Yodel ID. He instead possessed a handheld Yodel device from which he received information from Yodel, and from which Yodel could track his performance. He was not obliged to complete any work and Yodel was not obliged to give him any. His contract also stated that he could send a substitute to complete his work, provided the substitute had the same level of skills and qualifications. The contract also stated that he could work for other companies. 

It was found that B had never sent a substitute to complete his work but others on the same contract had done so. Does this defeat his claim to worker status? His contract states that he is self-employed, but is he?

The ECJ is currently being asked to decide whether the ability to send a substitute will defeat worker status. The referral includes numerous other questions relating to this gritty issue in the hope of finding some clarity. We continue to watch this gig economy space.