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Bolt to face court battle over drivers’ employment rights

City AM logo City AM 10/6/2022 Louis Goss

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Ride-hailing app Bolt is set to face a class action lawsuit calling for it to class its drivers as workers rather than self-employed contractors.

Law firm Leigh Day has filed a claim against Bolt on behalf of more than 1,600 of its drivers in calling on the Estonian tech company to give its drivers holiday pay and pay them minimum wage.

The lawsuit comes after the UK’s Supreme Court ruled against Bolt’s rival Uber last year, in stating the San Francisco app must class its drivers as employees, and give them the same benefits as staff.

Leigh Day will argue that on the back of the Uber ruling, Bolt’s drivers should also be classed as workers and given various benefits, including sick pay, pensions, and holiday pay, that employees are entitled to.

Leigh Day employment solicitor Charlotte Pettman said the law firm is “confident that Bolt drivers should be given worker status and the rights this affords”.

However, a spokesperson for Bolt said “the Supreme Court ruling related to Uber’s operating model in 2016 which is different to our own”.

“Bolt’s operating model means drivers receive higher earnings per trip and benefit from total flexibility,” the company spokesperson said.

The class action lawsuit comes after the Court of Appeals last year ruled that Deliveroo drivers should not be classed as workers, on the basis they are able to ask others to carry out their work.

Alex Marshall, president of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) which is supporting the claim, said: “Bolt uses the wrongful misclassification of workers as an excuse for forcing drivers to work without holiday pay, guaranteed minimum earnings and other rights.”

He said that while “drivers working for Bolt value flexibility,” the limb (b) worker status for gig workers, ensures drivers are able to work flexibly whilst enjoying “basic rights”.

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