0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

smile! you’re a worker

11 January 2017

Do you expect your contractors to:

  • smile
  • wear a uniform
  • work when they say that they will work
  • follow directions?

If yes, following the judgment in Dewhurst v CitySprint UK Ltd, there is a real risk that they are in fact workers within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and entitled to the protections that the legislation affords.

The Employment Tribunal considered whether the claimant, a bicycle courier, was a ‘worker’ of CitySprint as opposed to being self-employed or a ‘contractor’ (which was how she was described in the contract).

The Employment Tribunal found worker status even though:

  • in theory, CitySprint was not obliged to provide work and the claimant was under no obligation to accept it
  • the claimant could, on paper, send a substitute
  • the claimant did not get paid if she did not work.

The decision demonstrates the ability of the tribunal to look behind the paperwork, or ‘window dressing’, and determine a case on the reality of the relationship between the parties. It is also one of a number indicating a trend that is moving away from the ‘gig economy’.

Will Citysprint UK Ltd, like Uber, appeal? We will keep you updated. 

The moral of the story is that if an individual is considered to be self-employed, the reality of their relationship with the business must mirror the contractual documents drafted to give the relationship that effect. The greater the control of the business, the greater the prospect of worker or employee status. 


related opinions

Does a breach of an obligation in an agreement for lease allow the tenant to refuse to complete the lease?

A tenant who does not want to be forced to complete a lease if an obligation in the agreement for lease is breached must provide expressly for this in the agreement.

View blog

Brexit: Accounts and financial reporting – have you assessed the possible impact on your business?

Despite all of the media attention around Brexit, very little is being said about the effect of Brexit on the accounting and financial reporting requirements for businesses operating cross-border.

View blog

Extension to exemption from Tier 2 visa salary threshold for STEM and Mandarin teachers

The Government has announced that the current exemption from the £30,000 minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 (General) sponsored workers in a number of public service professions has been extended.

View blog

Could suspension of an employee pending an investigation amount to a breach of their employment contract?

The Court of Appeal recently provided authoritative guidance on disciplinary suspensions including on whether the suspension of an employee facing serious allegations, pending an investigation, could amount to a repudiation of their employment contract.

View blog

mailing list sign up



Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up