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New hope for Gateshead courier after Uber drivers’ Supreme Court win

A courier from Gateshead is one of thousands of people working in the gig economy likely to be impacted by the Supreme Court’s ruling that Uber drivers should be classed as workers.

Posted on 24 February 2021

A courier from Gateshead is one of thousands of people working in the gig economy likely to be impacted by the Supreme Court’s ruling that Uber drivers should be classed as workers.

Martin Buckley, 26, was a courier for delivery company Stuart for three years and is speaking out about what it’s like to work in the gig economy after a landmark judgment, passed down last Friday, by the Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers are entitled to workers’ rights.

Law firm Leigh Day believes the decision will have repercussions for others working in the gig economy who are also classed as ‘independent contractors’. 

This means they are not entitled to basic rights usually given to workers such as holiday pay and the National Minimum wage. 

Join the Stuart Courier Claim

Martin, 26, a courier for Stuart for three years, said:

“What made Stuart more appealing than other courier companies I’ve worked for was that they offered a minimum hourly guarantee which meant I had more security.

“But over the years, things got progressively worse. When I started you could book to work a certain zone and you wouldn’t be asked to work outside of that, but now they can send you miles away.

“I could be in Gateshead and they’d send me across the river to Newcastle and while I was there, they’d send me to another zone so I could end up three zones outside of where I started.

“There’s also a time limit as to how long you can be outside the zone you’re booked into, and if you miss that time limit, you’d lose your minimum guarantee. 

“You don’t get paid for how far you travel to the pickup location, just for the distance between there and the drop off location, so when you’re travelling around a city centre, you can end up losing money.

“In the end I stopped working for them because it was costing me so much and it wasn’t worth the stress. 

“You go to work to make a living and you end up paying out more than you earn. It just doesn’t make sense.”

As well as Uber drivers, Leigh Day represents clients working for delivery company Stuart and Addison Lee in similar workers’ rights claims.

In the Uber judgment, Lord Leggatt said that courts should carefully scrutinise working arrangements to ensure that individuals are not denied those rights just because they are called ‘partners’ or ‘contractors’.

He explained that that the purpose of employment legislation is to protect “workers from being paid too little for the work they do, required to work excessive hours or subjected to other forms of unfair treatment.”

Gabriel Morrison, a solicitor in the employment team at Leigh Day, said:

“This judgment is a huge victory for Uber drivers and is likely to impact others who are bringing similar workers’ rights claims.

“We hope the Supreme Court’s decision helps Stuart to recognise that their couriers should also be given basic rights such as holiday pay and the National Minimum wage. 

“During the pandemic these hard-working men and women have helped to keep our economy going yet they face more hardship than ever. 

“It is time for this to change and for companies like Stuart to class their couriers as workers so they can benefit from the rights that this status affords.” 

For more information or to join the claim visit www.leighday.co.uk/Stuart-Couriers

 

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