Freelancers alerted to their day-to-day work not matching the contract

Freelancers should have no truck with the growing number of work assignments that contractually don’t have any bearing on their day-to-day reality.

Issued by a compliance assessor in the professional sector -- rather than the gig economy, the alert to ensure a freelancer's working practices are reflected in paperwork (and vice versa) came yesterday.

But the assessor, Professional Passport, was speaking in wake of the Amazon drivers’ case, in which droves of the web retailer’s delivery personnel say they shouldn’t be self-employed.

'More and more freelance arrangements questioned and challenged'

Professional Passport’s boss Crawford Temple says such bids to seek employment rights in court have a big factor in common with what’s playing out for limited company freelancers.

“We are seeing more and more situations where the actual arrangements versus contractual arrangements are being questioned and challenged,” Mr Temple told FreelanceUK.

“Whether that’s related to IR35 and the Off-Payroll Working rules, or ‘contractors’ seeking employment rights through employment tribunals.”

'The reality of the situation'

The Amazon case illustrates the importance of the contractual chain, and ensuring the contract reflects "the reality of the situation," added Professional Passport’s CEO, who continued with a warning:

Falsely labelling arrangements as something they are not, is unlikely to succeed and heightens the risks in the supply chain.

“What is likely to come out of the Amazon case is a re-enforcement of the absolute importance of correctly reflecting the actual working arrangements through the contracts.”

'Uber was empowering'

But whichever way the judge ultimately rules – for or against Amazon, it will be hard to trump Uber in terms of case law significance, hinted Leigh Day solicitor Kate Robinson.

“Uber was a landmark [Supreme Court] judgment that empowered gig economy workers to take action when they believe they are being denied rights they’re entitled to. 

“Because of the specific circumstances of drivers delivering for Amazon via DSPs, we are claiming they are employees, rather than workers”, Ms Robinson told FreelanceUK.

'No impact on self-employed -- yet'

Potentially problematic to Amazon’s claim that the drivers are self-employed, the drivers work set shifts and have to book time off.

But another legal expert recommends a ‘wait and see’ approach, in terms of implications for other freelancers who pursue employee status, and the employment contract which goes with it.

“I don’t think I can comment on what [the] Amazon [case] means for the self-employed, as I don’t think it has any impact as such -- yet,” the expert told FreelanceUK.


Specialising in recruitment law, the expert was speaking on the eve of Ms Robinson’s Leigh Day saying Just Eat should class its food delivery couriers as ‘workers,’ not self-employed.

“These tribunals in the gig economy are coming thick and fast,” says Qdos CEO Seb Maley. “It just goes to show how much confusion there is around employment status among gig economy workers.”

As well as the claims against Just East and Amazon, Leigh Day has claims against other companies operating in the gig economy, such as Gophr, Addison Lee, Bolt, Ola and BCA. 

The law firm’s employment specialist, Ms Robinson told FreelanceUK: “For many years, Leigh Day has fought for gig economy workers’ rights, and we will continue to do so until they are treated fairly.”


5th May 2023

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