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Employment Status: Courier’s ability to ‘release’ job was not an automatic right to substitute

In Stuart Delivery Ltd v Augustine 2019, the EAT upheld the employment tribunal’s findings that a delivery courier was a ‘worker’ under S.230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The Claimant was a delivery courier who undertook fixed time slots for the Respondent. During the fixed slot, the Claimant was confined to his agreed operation zone and undertook deliveries that were offered to him via an app for an agreed hourly wage. He could not hold himself out as being available to other delivery companies during this time.

The Claimant was able to release the slot assigned to him to be picked up by other couriers in the area via SD Ltd’s app. However, if no other courier accepted, then the Claimant was duty bound to complete his allocated deliveries.

SD Ltd argued that the Claimant was self-employed as the ability to release his slot to other couriers amounted to a right to substitute. However, the tribunal considered that this was not the character of a substitution clause that would deny him ‘worker’ status.

SD Ltd appealed the decision but the EAT upheld the tribunal’s findings.

The EAT upheld the employment tribunal’s findings that a delivery courier was a ‘worker’ under S.230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The EAT agreed that the tribunal had correctly found that the Claimant could only be released from his obligation to perform the deliveries himself if another courier signed up to his slot. This meant he had no control over whether the delivery would be picked up or by whom if released.

This therefore did not amount to a ‘right’ of substitution and so did not undermine the requirement for personal service, under s230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Link to transcript:

Employment status has a significant impact on your obligations as an employer. With the upcoming changes to the IR35 rules, determining the employment status of your workforce is paramount. To speak to one of our experts about employment status click here.

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