The Doctors Laboratory (TDL), a provider of pathology services for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), has admitted that it was unlawfully employing five couriers as independent contractors rather than workers.
This is the second case of a company in the so-called “gig economy” admitting to unlawfully classifying workers as independent contractors, following a prior decision against Royal Mail subsidiary eCourier.
This admission by TDL was made in response to a claim brought by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) on behalf of five of its members against the company. However the IWGB’s claim demands that the Central Employment Tribunal go further and determine that the five couriers are in fact employees.
Unlike independent contractors, workers are entitled to guaranteed minimum wage and holiday pay. Employees have additional protections against unfair dismissal and are entitled to sick pay.
The case will be heard between 13 and 16 November 2017.
While the IWGB is still waiting for the claimants to receive the holiday pay that the company denied them and which it now admits they are entitled to, it is also working to put together another claim for unpaid holidays at TDL on behalf of dozens of workers.
The five couriers that brought the original claim are representative of the different types of contracts and arrangements at TDL, so the union expects future claims to also go in their favour.
IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “TDL’s recent admission of unlawful behaviour is further evidence of two trends in the so-called gig economy.
“First that there has been widespread and rampant denial of employment rights with no consequence. But second, that worker status is inevitable once these companies are challenged. This is now the second company to admit to unlawful behaviour in this area and we expect many more to follow in the coming months.”
“In TDL’s case however worker status is not good enough, these couriers are employees. TDL would be wise to admit to the full extent of its behaviour and not try to weasel out of the situation on the cheap.”
The couriers are contracted by TDL to carry pathology samples to their laboratories, but also to take blood to hospitals for emergency transfusions.