Skip to main content

Home  »  Business NewsUK Business NewsUK Employment news   »   Royal Mail sued for giving self-employed status to delivery drivers

Royal Mail sued for giving self-employed status to delivery drivers

Royal Mail van

Royal Mail delivery drivers are suing the company for classifying them as self-employed, which prevents certain benefits like sick pay and the minimum wage. 

This lawsuit resembles a significant legal decision against Uber, highlighting issues within the gig economy. 

Drivers are represented by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and solicitor firm Leigh Day.

They argue that this classification unfairly subjects them to financial penalties for absences due to illness, as experienced by Parcelforce, Royal Mail's parcel delivery arm.

Marc Francis, a driver with a decade of service at Parcelforce, voiced his frustration over the employment terms.

He addressed the lack of autonomy over work schedules, routes, and the absence of basic worker protections. 

The lawsuit details how these conditions have led to substantial financial burdens on drivers when they are unable to work due to health reasons. 

"All I want is legal rights – rights that we’re due"

For instance, Francis was charged £764 for taking a two-week medical leave, a cost meant to cover the replacement worker.

He told The Guardian:“The reason why owner drivers are much more suitable to the business is purely down to exploitation.

“You can talk to me about money all you want but this case is not about that. All I want is legal rights – rights that we’re due."

The complaint highlights issues around pay, with drivers negotiating individual parcel rates that often do not meet minimum wage standards after deducting operational costs. 

Francis's testimony reveals the financial strain and fear of seeking medical care among drivers, underlining the exploitative nature of their employment status.

This case echoes the landmark Uber ruling, advocating for the recognition of gig economy workers as entitled to standard employment rights. 

Need Career Advice? Get employment skills advice at all levels of your career

Solicitor Leigh Day, representing the drivers, aims to initiate a broader class action.

The firm argues many Parcelforce drivers face similar exploitations due to their classification as self-employed contractors

A Parcelforce spokesperson said: “All of our owner drivers are self-employed and we refute any claims that this is not the case.

“Our self-employed drivers play a valuable role in delivering parcels in the UK and are free to provide their services to other businesses.

“Our owner drivers can choose whether to personally make deliveries and collections or arrange for other drivers to do them. We are unable to comment on an ongoing legal claim.”

Follow us on XLinkedIn, and Facebook