“The Proof is in the Substance”. Cycle courier found to be a worker and not a self-employed contractor.


Cyclist on a road

Another Uber? Cycle courier found to be a worker. Worker or Self-employed?

In a case very similar to the recent ‘Uber’ case in October 2016, the Employment Tribunal found a cycle courier to be a worker and not a self-employed contractor.

The company argued that the cycle courier was a self-employed contractor as there was no mutuality of obligation between the parties, the courier was allowed to use a substitute and they were not entitled to holiday, maternity or sick pay. These terms were included in their “Confirmation of Tender to Supply Courier Services’

However, the Tribunal found that this document did not accurately reflect the reality of the relationship in practice (they used the dicta in the famous case of Autoclenz v Belcher and others [2011] IRLR 820 (SC)). The claimant, Ms Dewhurst was required to log into the company’s Citytrakker tracking system and log out at the end of the day, wore a uniform, was directed by the controller and was even told when to smile, was expected to work when she said she would and could not use a substitute. The tribunal therefore found that she had little freedom as to how she would perform her work and that the employer held a large amount of control over her work.

The case shows that the tribunal will continually look deeper into the actual substance of the relationship between the parties and not simply at the terms of the documentation. On hearing evidence from both parties, the tribunal found that the documentation did not represent the true relationship and therefore found the cycle courier to be a worker and she therefore succeeded in her claim for two days annual leave.

Case: Dewhurst v CitySprint UK Ltd ET2202512/2016, 5 January 2017.

For further information on employment status and self-employment please contact Joanna Alexiou on 020 3490 1475 or via email to j.alexiou@johnsandsaggar.co.uk