How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Ben Jones Your Own Question
Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49866
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Type Your Employment Law Question Here...
Ben Jones is online now

I am a self employed courier in the uk (although i believe

This answer was rated:

I am a self employed courier in the uk (although i believe i am classed as a worker). I provide my own vehicle, fuel and insurance. I go to the depot load my vehicle with my parcels for my geographical area and spend the day delivering/collecting my parcels. Last year the company introduced an eta system whereby your 1st delivery might be 8.00 - 9.00, the 2nd 8.04 - 9.04 etc etc. We have to pay £1000 per van for the companies livery and slam locks on all doors. They have given us a new contract which they want me to sign by thursday which states we will be financially penalised if we dont hit 93% target of on time delivery of parcels. I have asked what the penalty is and been told by the manager that he doesnt know. Last year I saw a solicitor with regard to my contract and basically if they dont like the look of you they are not obliged to offer you any work so its not worth much. When i hesitated to sign they said sign or theres the door which is morally wrong. The new contract also states that there will be a £300 fine per month if you are either not wearing uniform or your van is older than 5 years or is not liveried or slam locked. I emailed the manager today and said I cannot sign the contract because a) i cannot sign agreeing to pay a penalty if i dont know how much it is and b) I will immediately be in breach of my contract as my van does not have livery or slam locks. My husband also works here and his van is just over 5 years old. What is the legal position with regard to this????
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. firstly can you tell me how long you have been working there please and were you given a contract when you started working there.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

HI Ben

I have been working there for 5 years and yes i was given a contract. They change it every year. I know I dont have virtually any rights under the contract and if i sued I would probably win that I am not self employed. They are asking us to do more work and work to tighter schedules for no additional pay. My question is more to do with the legalities of asking me to sign a contract that we both know i am already in breach of (I have asked them to give me 90 days to sort out my vans) I was in breach of this last year but they didnt pursue it but this year there is financial consequence and also the legality of asking us to sign without telling us exactly what the financial consequence is in failing not less that 93% of eta deliveries.

Thank you for that information please leave this with me and I will get my advice ready for you on how to proceed with this. I will get back to you ASAP There is no need to wait on here I will email you when ready regards Ben.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Ben

I just heard from 1 of the drivers that the manager has stated even if we dont sign the new contract they are bringing the charges into play from next week as last years contract said they have the right to introduce penalties


Thank you for your response, which I will now review. I will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Hello sorry for the slight delay I was called away on something urgent earlier and have just managed ten get some spare time. I am halfway through completing my response and will finalise it first thing in the morning and post on here. Thanks
Many thanks for your patience and apologies again for not being able to get back to you sooner. The starting point in your situation is that penalty clauses are generally illegal and unenforceable by law. A person or company cannot just start fining others unless they can justify that the amount they are claiming is reasonable and a loss or expense they have genuinely incurred. So they cannot just choose any odd amount they want and ‘penalise’ you for not hitting targets – they must show that these losses have actually been incurred by them otherwise it would just be a penalty clause and be legally unenforceable.
However, the issue is that whatever they try and do your employment rights are rather limited, at least in terms of job security. As a self employed worker you have no protection against unfair dismissal so the employer can easily terminate your employment by issuing you with the notice period due to you under contract. They do not need a fair reason for dismissal nor do they have to follow a fair procedure – serving you notice is all that is required.
So whilst the penalties they are trying to impose are likely to be unenforceable and something you could try and reclaim if needed, it does not prevent the employer from terminating your employment if they wanted to. This could happen even if you had legitimate reasons for refusing to accept the new contract or even if it was because you were challenging their penalty clause. It is just your employment status as self employed that lets you down – there is no job security in it apart from getting the notice period you are due under contract. So bear this in mind when you decide on how to proceed.
I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Ben

Thanks for the response. If they gave me notice and then I took them to court because I doubt that I am self employed and if I won the case does that then give me rights to go for unfair dismissal??



PS What defines my status as self employed?

I will try and get the information to determine your status and get back to you later today
Hi you can actually use the Government's employment status indicator to determine your status:
It is possible to make the claim for unfair dismissal anyway and ask the tribunal to determine you status in the process - if you are found to be an employee then you can go ahead with it, if not - the claim will be rejected.
If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you
Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you