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Legal action launched against Royal Mail as courier drivers ask for basic employment rights

Legal action has been launched against Royal Mail Group Limited on behalf of four courier drivers who claim that the household name and former public service, Royal Mail, does not provide them with basic employment rights

12 December 2017

The claims, which have been launched in the Employment Tribunal by GMB, represented by law firm Leigh Day, allege that there is a failure by Royal Mail to pay the Parcelforce drivers (a trading name of Royal Mail) the national minimum wage and holiday pay.

They also claim that the couriers should be entitled to other employee rights such as paternity pay, sick pay and employee protections such as protection from discrimination.

The couriers are currently classed as self-employed and therefore are not entitled to the same right as employees. A first hearing is due to be held at the Employment Tribunal on 16 February 2018.

Law firm Leigh Day is currently also representing drivers and couriers from Uber, Addison Lee, Deliveroo, DX, UK Express and Hermes in similar so-called ‘gig economy’ cases.

Liana Wood, a lawyer in the Leigh Day employment team at Leigh Day, who is representing the drivers, said: “We believe that Royal Mail owes the same responsibilities as any other company to its employees. They should be paid the National Minimum Wage, they should be able to take leave when their children are born and they should be able to take time off when they are sick.”

Mark Smith, 47, of Worcester, one of the drivers bringing legal action, said: “I have worked for Royal Mail for over 25 years, both as an employed driver originally, and, since 2003, under what they say is a self-employed contract. Yet, I do the same job I have always done; the only difference now is that I get paid less for doing more hours’ work per week than drivers who are categorised as employees."

Robin Hargest, 58, of Worcester, also bringing a claim against Royal Mail, added: “Having worked for Royal Mail for most of my adult life, it was a very difficult decision to bring this claim. I’m doing so because I no longer have my basic worker’s rights, I have zero flexibility and by the time I have had to pay for all the expenses, such as my van, which I need to do my job, I do not believe I am paid the minimum wage”.

Maria Ludkin, GMB Legal Director, said: “Royal Mail is shirking its responsibilities through bogus self-employment.

“Having enticed long-standing employees to work under so-called self-employed contracts back in 2003, they have then, again and again, cut back their pay and increased their workload. Despite doing the same job as other employed drivers at Royal Mail, these courier drivers currently have no protection against this treatment whatsoever.

“GMB continues to fight for the rights of our members wherever we see exploitation disguised as bogus self-employment.”

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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