The number of couriers taking on delivery company Stuart has surged to 154 as members of Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB) join the fight for workers’ rights.
Stuart, a delivery company providing services for businesses such as Pizza Hut, Nespresso and Ocado, describes its couriers as ‘independent riders’ and does not provide them with workers’ rights such as holiday pay and the National Minimum wage. The IWGB has joined forces with law firm Leigh Day arguing that, because of the way the company operates, couriers should be classed as workers.
Anthony Doherty, a Stuart courier, said: “I have worked for Stuart Delivery throughout the pandemic. While most of the country was staying home and staying safe, I was outdoors putting myself at risk to provide a vital service for the public. I put my health on the line, and I did so while being denied minimum wage and holiday pay. This case is not just about justice for me, it’s about justice for hundreds of key workers who are being denied what is legally theirs.”
Leigh Day believes thousands of couriers could be eligible to claim back pay for unpaid holiday and any shortfall between money earned and the National Minimum Wage.
Gabriel Morrison, a solicitor in the employment team at Leigh Day, said: “Protecting workers’ rights during these times of economic hardship is perhaps even more important than it has ever been, so we’re delighted to be working with IWGB on this claim. Gig economy workers have helped to keep our economy going during the pandemic, yet companies like Stuart continue to deny their couriers basic rights such as holiday pay and the National Minimum wage. Both Leigh Day and IWGB think this is wrong. It is time for Stuart to recognise that the way they treat couriers is unjust and put their mistakes right.”
The law firm is representing clients on a no win no fee basis, and IWGB members will receive a 5 percent discount on the legal fees payable if the claim is successful. Already, an Employment Tribunal in 2018 found in favour of a Stuart courier who claimed that he should be classed as a worker. This decision was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in December 2019.
Stuart have once again appealed the ruling and the case will now be heard by the Court of Appeal. If the claim continues to be successful, Leigh Day believe that the ruling should apply to all Stuart couriers who bring legal claims. Stuart, which operates in approximately 35 locations across England and Wales, will only be legally required to compensate those who have brought a claim.
Alex Marshall, IWGB President, said: "Stuart Delivery have been knowingly denying thousands of key workers the pay and rights they legally deserve throughout the pandemic. We have not only seen these couriers provide a vital service to the public as they stay at home and keep safe, but we have also seen these couriers forced to take strike action in Sheffield and Plymouth over declining pay and conditions. These couriers have put their lives on the line to provide this service and yet they are punished by Stuart Delivery with the continued denial of what is legally theirs. The result of this is key workers not being able to afford to pay their bills, to feed their families and in some cases being able to self-isolate."
For more information or to join the claim visit www.leighday.co.uk/Employment-discrimination/Current-cases/Stuart-courier-claim