An employment agency that supplies drivers for the Co-op supermarkets is facing legal action due to alleged “bogus self-employment” practices.
The union preparing the legal action, Unite, wants to take the Agency Drivers Network (ADR) to the employment tribunal over allegations that drivers set up their own limited company and refers workers to an accountant so they can operate under a “bogus self-employed” model to avoid agency workers regulations and holiday pay, statutory sick pay and minimum pension payments.
Unite believes drivers affected were receiving nearly £3 an hour less than directly-employed drivers at the Co-op.
ADR provides drivers across the country to the Co-op either directly or via third party contractors, such as Wincanton and XPO.
“All the advice we’ve received points to bogus self-employment practices being used to drive down wages and deny workers of their basic rights,” Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said.
“This model is a cruel ruse by penny pinching bosses and further evidence of how exploitative working practices are mutating under the guise of the so called gig economy.
“We are currently advising members on potential claims for holiday pay, unlawful deductions from wages and breaches of the agency worker regulations. We expect to lodge employment tribunal claims in the coming weeks.”
A spokesman for the Co-op said: “The transport operation at our Lea Green site is run by our third party supplier, Wincanton.
“These drivers do not work for the Co-op but are provided to Wincanton by an agency, ADR, to enable Wincanton to flex its workforce according to demand.
“As we don’t pay the drivers directly, it would be wrong for us to intervene in the remuneration package, which has been agreed between ADR and its agency drivers.”