Disputes surrounding paid holiday and sick pay most commonly prevail within jobs in the gig economy, a labour market consisting of short-term contracts as opposed to permanent roles.

More than 1.3 million people are now working in casual part-time jobs without guaranteed hours or pay if they are sick, research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found. It was also found that more than half felt they were being exploited by the lack of regulations.

Many contracts handed out to employees in the gig industry identify them as a self-employed contractor, when in truth this doesn’t reflect the reality of their legal status.

When labelled as a worker and not a contractor, employees are entitled to basic employment rights. There are a growing number of cases mounting around the gig economy, specifically couriers, and a recent case about holiday pay exemplifies the need for a major upheaval.

Cycle courier holiday pay claim case

Mr. Boxer brought an employment tribunal claim against his employer, Excel, a courier company, after they failed to pay him holiday pay. The tribunal case revolved around whether Mr. Boxer was a worker or not.

Mr. Boxer had to work five days a week, worked nine hours a day and had to be on call at all times during the working day. He was also paid at a fixed, non-negotiable rate. His contract allowed him time off, unpaid, as long as he found a substitute worker. However, with background checks needed and jobs needed filling urgently, this was a difficult task.

Instead of the self-employed contractor, that he was labelled as in his contract, the Tribunal concluded Mr. Boxer was a worker under Excel and not running his own business. And the employment tribunal agreed.

The employment tribunal held that Mr. Boxer was a worker under section 230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996) and regulation 2(1) of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833) (WTR 1998) rather than being in business on his own account. This meant that he succeeded in his claim for a week’s holiday pay. Excel were forced to pay £321 in unpaid holiday pay.

Gig economy employment rights

The gig economy is relatively small but a sector that is growing rapidly.

Cases like this, and numerous others that have resulted in the same outcome, confirm that gig workers who work long hours and give commitment to a company, should be treated like workers and receive basic employee benefits instead of being treated as individual business people.

Many people in the gig economy are eligible for basic employment rights, but are confused by the issue of their employment status.

Speak to a specialist employment law solicitor

If you are concerned about your worker status, feel that you are being exploited by your employer, or think that your contract doesn’t reflect your true role, contact our specialist recruitment team. For further advice use the telephone numbers below: