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Blood Couriers challenge self-employed status

Posted by Davenport Solicitors Team on March 18, 2017 in Employment Law

So, following on from my blog last week, the clarification of self employed status continues.


This time, couriers carrying emergency blood supplies to hospitals and samples to laboratories have launched a claim challenging their self-employed status. The couriers who work for The Doctors Laboratory (TDL), a company which provide pathology services to the NHS, argue that they are employees and not independent contractors.

As independent contractors, they don’t get holiday paid or sick pay.

The TDL couriers’ claim for employee status, goes a step further than previous gig-economy cases – against Uber and courier firm City Sprint – which both successfully argued drivers were officially “workers”.

Worker are employed under a contract in which they must always turn up for work even if they don’t want to, are entitled to employment rights including the national living wage, holiday pay and protection against discrimination, and may also miss out on other benefits including sick pay and maternity leave.

Employees have those additional rights guaranteed as well as protection against unfair dismissal, statutory redundancy pay and the right to request flexible working.

A self-employed independent contractor receives no entitlement to employment rights, beyond basic health and safety and anti-discrimination framework.

In light of the Uber case it would be interesting to see whether the Tribunal finds in favour of the couriers and finds that they are employees and not self-employed contractors. In order to do so the Tribunal would have to in my opinion look at:

  • The degree of control TDL has over the couriers
  • Whether the couriers provide personal service? In relation to personal service that was there a wage or other remuneration. Otherwise there will be no consideration, and without consideration no contract of any kind.
  • Was there mutuality of obligation
  • Whether TDL provided and maintained the tools or equipment used
  • Whether the couriers hire their own help?
  • The degree of financial risk adopted

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