Drivers who work for British Car Auctions (BCA) are being urged to join a legal fight against the auction giant over their pay and status.
Law firm Leigh Day argues that drivers shouldn’t be classed as self-employed independent contractors, which they currently are, but workers.
It follows the recent workers’ rights win for Uber drivers and Addison Lee drivers, who took their claims to court and won.
Because they’re classed as self-employed, BCA drivers don’t receive workers’ rights such as the national minimum wage or holiday pay.
However, Leigh Day has said it believes some workers are only being paid between £4 and £6 an hour, which is below the current national living wage of £8.91.
It is now inviting more drivers to join the claim and believes thousands could be eligible for back pay for unpaid holiday or a shortfall between money earned and the national living wage.
The firm told Car Dealer: ‘Our understanding is that the drivers are paid a flat fee of £20 for the first 60 miles of a job. For longer jobs, they receive an additional amount calculable based on every mile driven over and above 60 miles.
‘The hourly rates calculations have been made by drivers, when factoring in their total pay (with deductions made for work-related expenses such as public transport costs when travelling between jobs) and total number of hours worked.’
One driver who worked for BCA during the UK’s third lockdown was quoted in the Leigh Day statement, although it would not reveal his identity.
He said: ‘The job itself is quite an enjoyable role but you feel taken advantage of by BCA.
‘The whole atmosphere between the drivers and the people sat in head office is fraught. It feels like their goal is to get as much work out of the drivers as possible for as little pay as they can.
‘BCA is a huge multi-billion-pound company and has a very public face in the UK with its other companies webuyanycar.com and Cinch, yet they knowingly exploit vulnerable and marginalised people.’
Gabriel Morrison, a solicitor in the employment team at Leigh Day, said: ‘Companies operating in the gig economy cannot continue to treat people the way they do and get away with it.
‘The recent victory for Uber drivers in the Supreme Court, closely followed by a win for Addison Lee drivers in the Court of Appeal, is proof of that.
‘This is why Leigh Day believes that this claim is a strong and winnable one.’
He continued: ‘As the Supreme Court in Uber pointed out, employment laws are designed to protect vulnerable workers from unfair treatment and low pay.
‘Despite these laws, BCA have deprived their drivers of holiday pay and national minimum wage rights for a long time.
‘We are hopeful that BCA will take notice of these recent judgments and realise that denying drivers worker status is not acceptable.’
A spokesperson for BCA Logistics said: ‘We take our responsibilities to our employees and to the self-employed contractors we work with very seriously.
‘To this end, we regularly review our operating model to ensure that we are operating in accordance with the relevant law.
‘To date, we have received no claims from Leigh Day.’