A tribunal has ruled that three drivers for London-based minicab firm Addison Lee were workers rather than self-employed contractors. Potentially, thousands of the company’s other drivers could now be owed wages and holiday pay.
In the UK there are two types of employment status: ‘employee’ and ‘worker’. Both are entitled to the national minimum wage and holiday pay, and employees have additional rights including the right to sue for unfair dismissal. Independent contractors, however, have none of these rights.
Addison Lee argued that its drivers were self-employed and in effect each running a small business. However, the tribunal held that ‘the drivers were not in any realistic sense contracting with Addison Lee’, but were ‘in a subordinate position’.
The tribunal heard that the drivers were obliged to accept jobs after logging in to the firm’s booking system, and they had to comply with the company dress code and code of conduct. They were required to ask customers if they had a preferred route and were not permitted to ‘pull away’ from a job without consent from the control base. All of this suggested they were not self-employed.
Gaby Hardwicke Employment Law Services Partner, Paul Maynard, commented on the case: “Although only a first-instance decision it is consistent with the trend, in cases such as Uber and Deliveroo, of courts and tribunals being increasingly willing to look behind the labels applied to these kinds of arrangements. The underlying policy encouraged by both the government and the unions is to afford individuals working in the ‘gig economy’ access to basic rights such as holiday pay and the minimum wage. As ever, employers should take advice before embarking on such arrangements.”
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