Hundreds of self-employed drivers at BCA should be classed as workers and entitled to at least NMW and paid holiday, according to an employment tribunal ruling.
According to the judgement there were a number of flaws, including that:
- the written agreement between BCA and the drivers did not reflect the reality of arrangements
- pay was set by BCA and was non-negotiable (in contrast to genuine self-employment where the pay rate is controlled by the person providing the service)
- drivers were required to work three or five days per week (in contrast to genuine self-employment where you have freedom to choose when you work)
- drivers were at risk of punishment if they did not work (in contrast to genuine self-employment where you can’t be punished for choosing not to work)
- drivers were specifically recruited to be an integral part of the BCA team and were not in business on their own account.
The judge found that the case against BCA (part of a group which includes webuyanycar.com and Cinch) was clear, and that all the features pointed one way towards the drivers being workers.
This is an important victory for the drivers themselves and the wider independent workforce. But how many more times will vulnerable self-employed workers be exploited by big businesses? You don’t need to be an employment expert to work out that these drivers weren’t genuinely self-employed.
Like many other employment tribunals involving gig economy workers, the business at the heart of it is abusing this model. Yet again, the workers are the ones suffering. If it isn’t genuine self-employment then it’s exploitation, as simple as that.
The sheer volume of similar employment status cases begs the question – why on earth isn’t the government doing anything to police the issue?