Some unions are continuing to focus on independent contractor misclassification in the gig economy. This week GMB, a union in the UK, brought claims against delivery company DX, which uses independent contractors to handle deliveries.
“We believe that gig economy employers such as DX are trying to avoid their legal responsibilities by dressing up relations with their workers as self-employment,” said Michael Newman of UK law firm Leigh Day, who is handling the case.
“The ‘gig economy’ refers to companies operating a system where temporary positions are common and an attempt is made to label those working on short-term engagements as ‘independent contractors,’” Newman said. “This practice can allow both the company and individual more flexibility in the way they carry out their work. However, this flexibility is often used as an excuse to deny individuals security and basic workers’ rights.”
The DX case includes six workers who claim they are being denied their rights. It follows other efforts by the union.
GMB had announced a separate legal action earlier this month against UK Express, a Birmingham, England-based firm that delivers products for Amazon. That case also claimed misclassification.
The union had one win in its fight against misclassification last October. Two Uber drivers represented by Leigh Day and supported by the union were found to be employees by the Central London Employment tribunal.
In North America, there is a legal fight in Seattle over a law that would allow Uber and other on-demand drivers to unionize. A judge temporarily blocked that law earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Federation of Labour called for expanding the definition of employee to prevent misclassification of workers as part of a larger, series of concerns.