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Purplebricks defiant against threat of legal action

Purplebricks insists there is no basis for a class action legal case over its employment practices which may start this month.

A pressure group, Contractors for Justice, announced on Wednesday that its proposed Group Litigation Order - popularly known as a class action - now had the participation of hundreds of former Purplebricks workers hired as self-employed agents.

However Purplebricks has told Estate Agent Today: “We have always taken legal advice in regards to our model – and the advice is very clear that there is no legal basis for this potential action. The service we offer our customers is completely unaffected.”

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According to C4J the premise of the claim is that, in law, these self-employed agents were in effect employed for the purposes of holiday pay and pension contributions. The claim is for as much as 20.7 per cent of each person’s total earnings. 

C4J says it now has enough claimants "to trigger the legal process against Purplebricks."

A C4J statement says: "Claimants now number in the hundreds and the current cohort will be ‘sealed’ and pre-action papers submitted to the courts from 14th December. Any potential claimants that are considering joining the action have until midnight on 14th December to submit their intention to proceed via the C4J website here."

Each individual submission is anonymous and is accepted on a no win-no fee basis.

  • Algarve  Investor

    Blimey, it just gets worse. I'm almost feeling sorry for them - the ultimate commisery.

    PB will be the punching bag here, but I'm sure they're not the only ones who have been guilty of dubious practices.

  • Chris Arnold

    I don't suppose there's any likelihood of the founders returning their treasure trove?

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    I'm no fan of Purple Bricks, but this is rubbish. Agents knew what they were getting into when they signed on the dotted line. If you want the security of a job, then you take the restrictions it places on you. If you want the freedom of self employment, then you take the risks too. You can't have your cake and eat it. Far too many of these cases recently.

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    The freedom of self employment is to be able to work for different clients at times that you choose. They weren't allowed and worked exclusively for PB. That's being employed.

     
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    Not when you sign on the dotted line to say you will work exclusively with PB it isn't. If you think these agents considered themselves employees on joining PB, or at any point working for PB then you're deluded. No-one has exploited or misled these people, and this constant argument of exclusivity is laughable on the face of it. The world has changed, business models have changed. There is no clear distinction between employed or self employed anymore, in fact, there hasn't been for decades. Each case should be considered on it's individual merits, and the question is; did these people sign up and agree to work with PB under these terms and conditions, knowingly and willingly. The answer is a resounding YES. It's time we started making grown ups act like grown ups.

     
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    When in February 2020 many were asked to report to a hotel room over an hour away with a couple of journeymen middle managers never previously met only to be told their services after 6 years as very successful 'Territory Owners' with amazing local businesses were no longer required, they could never have been more ‘employed’ and then immediately made ‘redundant’. Management thought they were cutting a big slice of ‘employment’ costs by ‘making redundant’ hundreds of Territory Owners that were always encouraged to see themselves as self-employed contractors building their own local businesses, and actually cost nothing but made everything. However, this move showed that the management then thought of and treated contractors/partners as employees to the point of making them redundant from ‘jobs’ they believed they had in every way apart from when it came to paying pension contributions, holiday and sick pay on their way to £50m or whatever they are now worth. Yes, there are risks you accept as a self-employed estate agent but having had such a successful local business taken away for a tiny fraction of its value, I would say anything that ends up being paid out to these contractors will be Karma for telling workers one thing whilst operating with a completely opposing agenda. Tagged as self employed, managed and made redundant as employed.

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    Cost nothing? You've clearly never managed a national marketing budget or logistics infrastructure. As far as their amazing local businesses go, they were entirely dependent on PB feeding them clients. They signed up for that. When that model no longer works, because these 'amazing local businesses' aren't operating profitably, then it no longer works. All risks that should have been mitigated by the fully grown adults who knowingly and willingly signed up to PB terms and conditions at the time. What did these people think was happening when they submitted a tax return every year? What did they think was happening when they were paid by invoice instead of PAYE. Why were they not behaving like employees? Because they knew they weren't, that's why.

     
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    Well said Hybrid Agent !

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    The next claim will be for mis selling from agents that make false claims to gain higher commissions. the Sh** has hit the fan.

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