CitySprint large van 2

The status of couriers across the industry could be affected by last week's tribunal ruling against CitySprint, according to a lawyer involved in the case.

Paul Jennings, partner at Bates Wells Braithwaite, represented bicycle courier Maggie Dewhurst, who was ruled to be an employee of CitySprint rather than a self-employed worker.

He told “The judge’s ruling is in relation to this individual specifically and no one else, but she said that this is probably relevant to other people employed by CitySprint.

“I think what you’ll see next is class action, so large groups of couriers coming together to bring large-scale claims for back pay.

“It will happen across the board because the next three claims that are coming in the next three months are against Addison Lee, Royal Mail-owned eCourier, and Excel.

"Each of these claimants is testing the law, or the contracts, and then the bigger class actions will fall in quickly behind.”

CitySprint said that it wanted clearer legal guidance for companies that could be affected by the issue.

A spokesman for business said: “This case has demonstrated that there is still widespread confusion regarding this area of law, which is why we are calling on the government to provide better support and help for businesses across the UK who could be similarly affected.”

The spokesman added the firm was “disappointed” with the ruling, and that “the vast majority” of its couriers “enjoy the freedom and flexibility of their current role”.

Last year HMRC set up a specialist team to look at employment law around self-employed workers, after a Guardian investigation suggested Hermes was underpaying its self-employed couriers.

At the time, parcels market analyst Frank Proud from Apex Insight told  “The investigation is only around Hermes, but we have to wonder if it’s for standards across the market, and whether others would have to match that.

“If it’s found Hermes needs to increase holiday pay or meet a guaranteed minimum, for example, you’d think that everyone else would have to match that, or that HMRC might have to look at others.”