UK ruling hits gig economy – again

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The omens seem to be stacking up for organisations operating in the gig economy after a UK court ruled that a “self-employed” cycle courier is in fact a genuine employee.

The Central London Employment Tribunal found that delivery firm CitySprint had wrongly classed employee Mages Dewhurst as a freelancer and unlawfully failed to award holiday pay.

Dewhurst, who has worked for the company for more than two years, did not receive a guaranteed wage, sick pay or holiday pay during her employment because she was considered an independent contractor rather than a fully-fledged employee.

However, according to a report by the Guardian, Judge Joanna Wade criticised CitySprint’s contractual arrangements as “contorted, indecipherable and window-dressing” before ordering the company to award basic employment rights.

The decision comes just months after the same tribunal found that UK Uber drivers should be considered employees rather than independent contractors. The case made shockwaves around the world as other drivers began questioning their employment status.

Ben Wilson, chair of the New Zealand Uber Drivers’ Association, said it was reconsidering a legal suit in the wake of the October decision – something the organisation had previously avoided due to potential cost

"When the likelihood of winning a case gets that much higher, then the expense becomes a lot more justifiable," he told TVNZ at the time.

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