Gig Workers To Get Holiday Backdated Beyond Two Years?

A group of medical couriers have won the right to seek backdated holiday pay covering the entire period that they were engaged, not just the two years that they were initially limited to.  The medical couriers were engaged on a self-employed basis by The Doctors Laboratory Limited, and in 2018 the couriers went to tribunal claiming that they were in fact workers not self-employed.  The case concluded that the couriers were limb (b) workers* and as such entitled to up to four weeks holiday a year.  The couriers were granted two years’ backdated holiday, however they appealed the decision on the time limit.

The appeal hearing was delayed until the outcome of the Pimlico Plumbers holiday pay case was published.  The relevant parts of this case were:

  • The right to paid holiday does not lapse, and if someone is  prevented from exercising their right to holiday it will instead be carried over until the termination of the contract, and
  • Claims to backdated holiday pay need to submitted within three months of the contract terminating.

The couriers satisfy these criteria and the appeal judge agreed, saying that a lower tribunal’s 2020 decision in the couriers’ case “cannot stand and must be set aside.”  Judge Jennifer Eady ruled the couriers “were and remain entitled to carry over any untaken paid annual leave” until their contracts end or the employer, The Doctors Laboratory Ltd., allows them to take the paid holidays they have accrued.

In other words the couriers have been given consent for a fresh tribunal to consider their claim, without limiting it to two years’ backdated pay.

This case could send shockwaves through the temporary labour market.  As well as helping these medical couriers and gig workers, the fresh tribunal may prove to be the catalyst for ensuring that the UK’s 1.6m temporary workers receive vast amounts of missing holiday pay.  We have been long campaigning for all these workers to receive what’s rightfully theirs, and we will keep you informed of developments.


*A “limb (b) worker” is a sub-category of contractor who cannot subcontract their work, unlike self-employed people who can subcontract their work.


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