500 drivers have won a tribunal which will see them reclassified as workers rather than self-employed individuals.
As such, the claimants – who work as trade plate drivers for British Car Auctions (BCA) Logistics – are entitled to workers’ rights under UK employment law.
These rights include pay at least at the National Minimum Wage for the hours they work, and statutory holiday pay. The law firm representing them said that the drivers had been “wrongly deprived” of both.
Alongside those rights, these workers are also entitled to any unpaid holiday pay and any difference between the pay they received and the National Minimum Wage. Drivers still working for BCA will receive National Minimum Wage and paid holiday going forwards.
This is just the latest employment tribunal to shine a light on the complexities of employment status and the confusion that determining status can cause for businesses. Previous high-profile cases have been brought against Uber and Deliveroo, among others.
In the Uber case, drivers were found to be ‘workers’ of the company. This decision was reached at a tribunal and eventually upheld by the Supreme Court. This ruling is particularly relevant, as it sets a case law precedent which could make an appeal by BCA unfeasible.
The claim was brought by Leigh Day, a law firm, on behalf of 500 trade plate drivers who were engaged by BCA Logistics. The firm announced the result of the tribunal on its website last week and outlined the key details of the case.
BCA owns online car marketplaces including Cinch and WeBuyAnyCar. The cars listed on these sites are collected from a seller and delivered to a buyer by these trade plate drivers, who were treated as independent contractors by BCA.
However, Leigh Day claimed that these drivers should be classed as workers and therefore entitled to workers’ rights, including payment at least in line with the National Minimum Wage.
At the tribunal, Judge EJ Meichen ruled that BCA Logistics had exercised “significant control” over its drivers. Meichen concluded that the drivers were workers and entitled to statutory rights and protections as a result.
There were several factors that led to this decision, including the fact that drivers had to work either three or five days a week. Pay was also fixed for all drivers, rather than individually negotiable.
Gabriel Morrison, a solicitor at Leigh Day said the result was a “positive judgement, not just for BCA drivers, but for all gig economy workers who are being deprived of basic rights”.
“BCA drivers work tirelessly inspecting vehicles and transporting them across the country, including for WeBuyAnyCar and Cinch, often travelling hundreds of miles.
“They are regularly subjected to unfair treatment by BCA, with jobs being removed or the company refusing to reimburse travel expenses.
“Despite their hard work as an integral part of BCA’s business, the company has wrongly deprived the drivers of basic rights such as National Minimum Wage and holiday pay.”
This tribunal ruling demonstrates the importance of businesses carrying out employment status decisions when engaging self-employed workers.
It’s worth noting that no tax liability is due from BCA Logistics in this case. However, if the drivers were being reclassified as employees, BCA may well have faced a tax bill for any missing employment taxes. Such a scenario could carry significant tax liability.
BCA will be subject to backdated pay claims from the workers involved. Overall, this is a costly mistake which reinforces the importance of businesses making well-informed employment status decisions from the outset.
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