Some 120 sub-postmasters have taken the Post Office to an employment tribunal in a bid to become ‘workers’ and receive employment rights. The workers are fighting for their right to paid holiday, pension rights and sick pay.
The high-profile case, due to be heard before the Central London Employment Tribunal later this month, could have implications not just for the sub-postmasters bringing the claim but for up to 8,500 sub-postmasters around the country, the Financial Times has reported.
The report suggested that if they are successful the Post Office could face a multimillion-pound bill at a time when the state-owned institution is still dealing with the fallout from a major miscarriage of justice involving dozens of sub-postmasters who were wrongly prosecuted for fraud and false accounting.
Qdos CEO, Seb Maley, had this to say about the developments, “This is the latest in a long line of gig economy cases where self-employed workers have taken their engager to court over employment rights. The rapid growth of the gig economy along with complex employment status rules means there are likely to be many more on the horizon.”
What are the wider implications?
Maley said that if 120 sub-postmasters are successful and receive employment rights from the Post Office it could pave the way for all 8,500 being granted worker status. It might also inspire millions of other gig economy workers to stake their claim for rights.
“The implications for the Post Office could be severe, reputationally and financially – and so other companies would be wise to take note. Engage self-employed workers when the relationship reflects employment and the company wouldn’t just need to cover the cost of employment rights – they would be liable for missing employment taxes too,” said Maley.
The case is being backed by the Communication Workers Union.