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Employment status

Were delivery drivers employed or self-employed?

A 2017 case considered whether a business’s delivery drivers were employed or self-employed. What was the outcome?

Case facts. In RS Dhillon and GP Dhillon Partnership v HMRC, the business provided haulage services to its customers. The key facts were:

  • the drivers had no written contract
  • the drivers were paid a fixed amount for day or night shifts and were not paid for holidays, sickness, etc.
  • drivers did not usually submit invoices, they just signed a weekly timesheet
  • the drivers could refuse work and were not guaranteed work by the business
  • the drivers provided their own legally-required personal protective equipment but not their own vehicles
  • a driver could nominate an approved substitute and it would be the driver, not the substitute, who would be paid by the business - it was up to the driver to pay the substitute
  • the drivers had to pay for their own training to meet the customer’s competence standards.

Outcome. The First-tier Tribunal held that the delivery drivers were employees rather than self-employed. The Tribunal considered that one of the key indicators for employment was that there was very little evidence to suggest that the drivers were in business on their own account. The drivers did not submit invoices for the work done and did not take much financial risk as they were paid a fixed rate for shifts. The drivers also didn’t seek other driving engagements.

Tip. Ensure you have a robust written contract for services with any self-employed workers and that the self-employed workers are submitting their own invoices for work done.

The Tribunal found that the drivers were employed as they were not considered to be in business on their own account as they had not submitted invoices and took very little financial risk.

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