News Updates

CitySprint bicycle courier is a worker, not self-employed contractor

Tuesday 17th January 2017

Following the recent Uber decision (click to read more), the ET in Dewhurst v CitySprint UK Ltd, has held that Ms Dewhurst, a bicycle courier, was a worker for the purposes of the ERA 1996.

CitySprint engaged Ms Dewhurst under its standard contract entitled “Confirmation of Tender Courier Services to CitySprint (UK) Limited”. When this document is signed, the courier is required to read and acknowledge key terms confirming their self-employed status via an electronic checklist on a computer. 

CitySprint states that it is under no obligation to provide work, the courier is not obliged to provide services and may provide a substitute. Couriers are paid by the job and if the courier does not work they will not receive any payment. Although the contract terms are clear, the decision in Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher and ors, allowed the ET to look at the reality of the situation.

The ET considered the contract title itself suspicious, the work of an “army of lawyers” and viewed the computerised checklist exercise an illustration of the inequality of bargaining power. The ET found Ms Dewhurst was integrated into CitySprint’s business, given she spoke to a controller at the start of her working day and logged into the Citytrakker system, which is used to track the couriers and assist controllers in assigning jobs. Ms Dewhurst only logged out of Citytrakker at the end of her working day and she was not realistically able to carry out any other work during that time, even where there were gaps between jobs. Ms Dewhurst was expected to work when she said she would, was given directions and instructed to smile and wear a uniform.

Further, the ET felt the substitution clause was so prescriptive that only another CitySprint courier could fill in. In addition, CitySprint automatically generated invoices and calculated payments, making them weekly in arrears. No invoices are submitted by the couriers.

The ET therefore concluded that Ms Dewhurst was not working for herself but was, for the purposes of the ERA 1996 and while logged into Citytrakker, a worker and therefore entitled to holiday pay.

All information in this update is intended for general guidance only and is not intended to be comprehensive, or to provide legal advice.