Gig economy case with potential impact for recruiters

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Monday, 05 June 2017

Gig economy case with potential impact for recruiters

A cycle courier is arguing that the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) should apply to workers as well as employees. We provide a key summary. 

Boxer v CitySprint 

A cycle courier is bringing a claim against his employer CitySprint. The cycle courier is arguing that the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) apply to workers as well as employees and therefore should apply to him as a worker. The courier is supported in the claim by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain. 


TUPE protects the rights of employees in allowing them to transfer their employment from the outgoing business to the incoming business and to retain the same terms and conditions they were engaged under. It also covers situations when a client outsources services or brings an outsourced services in-house, and also where a client changes contractors. The latter category is particularly relevant to recruiters because the regulations potentially apply when they take over a contract to supply temps to a client or lose a contract to another employment business. The The provisions also impose obligations on both the incoming business and the outgoing business to consult with the affected employees, with significant penalties for failure to do so. 

The TUPE definition of 'employee' on the face of it excludes anyone engaged on a contract for services, but applies to anyone engaged on contract of employment, apprenticeship or otherwise. The words ‘or otherwise’ have always potentially held the door open for workers to be in scope, with the contract for services exclusion only actually applying to individuals who are truly in business of their own account. If the definition does extend to workers, recruiters will need to consider the regulations whenever they take over a contract to supply staff. Presently it only comes up from time to time because the majority of temps are not engaged on employment contracts. 

This case has only recently been lodged and could get settled before a hearing. The REC Legal team will keep members updated. Further information about the legislation is available to REC Corporate members in the TUPE section of our Legal Guide. 

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