Independent Workers Union of Great Britain

IWGB brings landmark case to extend rights of workers in the “gig economy”


19 MAY: The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is bringing a landmark case to the employment tribunal that could expand the rights of workers, many of which work in the so-called “gig economy”.

Bicycle courier and winning claimant in recent “gig economy” tribunal “Boxer v Excel” Andrew Boxer is bringing a case against his current employer CitySprint over his TUPE transfer – the rules that protect employees’ rights when the organisation or service they work for transfers to a new employer. The IWGB will also argue that CitySprint is unlawfully classifying him as an independent contractor and denying him holiday pay.

Boxer was transferred over from Excel when the company was taken over by CitySprint. Despite a ruling from a judge on 24 March stating that Excel was acting unlawfully by classifying him as an independent contractor and denying him holiday pay, CitySprint has continued to employ him under those terms.

This case could establish the first precedent on whether TUPE transfer rules cover workers as well as employees. The case will also determine whether Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, which requires employers to give employees all employment particulars within first two months of employment, also applies to workers.

Workers [limb (b) worker], as opposed to independent contractors, are entitled to holiday pay, guaranteed minimum wage and protection against discrimination. Employees have the additional right to sick pay.

The so-called ‘gig economy’ has been little more than a mass assault on workers’ rights. Employers in this sector have used contorted contractual arrangements to deprive their workforce of the most basic necessities – like minimum wage and paid holidays,” said IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee.

As this sector grows, it is now more important than ever to clearly establish what employment rights workers have. A correct reading of the law indicates they have a right to be protected in a business transfer and a right to be given a written statement of their employment particulars – that is the precedent this case intends to set. This case demonstrates once again that the main problem of employment rights in the so-called gig economy is the lack of enforcement of existing law,” he said.

The IWGB is engaged in a number of tribunal cases in the so-called gig-economy. A hearing before the Central Arbitration Comittee brought by IWGB to determine the employment status of Deliveroo riders has been set for 23, 24 and 25 May. The union also has pending cases against NHS pathology services provider The Doctor’s Laboratory and Addison Lee.