The legal action is being brought to the Employment Tribunal (ET) by trade union GMB on behalf of four courier drivers who work for Parcelforce, a trading name of Royal Mail. The claimants are being represented by law firm Leigh Day.
The claimants argue that Parcelforce drivers should be categorised as either employees or workers rather than self-employed contractors. This would mean that they would be entitled to receive employment rights from Royal Mail, including the national minimum wage, holiday pay, paternity pay, sick pay, and employee protections, such as protection from discrimination.
A first hearing is due to be held at the ET on 16 February 2018.
A spokesperson at Parcelforce Worldwide said: “We are aware that a case has been filed. We do not comment on ongoing legal cases.”
Liana Wood, lawyer in the employment team representing the couriers at Leigh Day, said: “We believe that Royal Mail owes the same responsibilities as any other [organisation] 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.”
Maria Ludkin, legal director at GMB, added: “Royal Mail is shirking its responsibilities through bogus self-employment. Having enticed long-standing employees to work under so-called self-employment contracts back in 2003, [it has] 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.”