12 Jan 2017
Following last week’s tribunal win for City Sprint bicycle courier, Maggie Dewhurst, plus recent gig rulings against Uber and Deliveroo, Paul Holcroft, Head of Legal and Advisory at Croner is claiming that these so-called “ground breaking” cases, are nothing new and that cases determining employment status have been in existence since the late sixties. Paul Holcroft, says: “The issue explored in the in the City Sprint and Uber cases concerns a well-established legal principle previously considered in cases including Redrow Homes v Wright and Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher. Therefore, despite the media hype around the recent rulings involving City Sprint, Uber and Deliveroo, they are not exactly massively important from a case law perspective. “The difference with these cases is that they centre on the ‘gig economy’, a business trend which has grown significantly in recent years, with an estimated five million people in the UK employed as independent workers. This flexible working arrangement allows employers to only pay when the work is available and avoid incurring expensive staff costs when demand is low. It also allows workers to pick and choose when they work. However, there is very little employment protection and low pay is much higher than in conventional work, which is why these cases are suddenly cropping up. “On the back of the explosion in these working practices, the Government’s Work and Pensions Committee launched an inquiry at the end of 2016 on the UK welfare system’s ability to adequately support the growing number of gig economy workers. The DWP inquiry joins a raft of other political and legal probes into the gig economy and it will be interesting to see what impact this has on those workers as opposed to the ongoing tribunal cases.”
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