Blow for gig economy as Addison Lee taxi drivers held to be workers

The gig economy has suffered another blow with the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling that taxi drivers with the company Addison Lee should be classed as workers.

Three drivers brought claims asserting an entitlement to holiday pay and to the national minimum wage, which would only exist if they were workers for the purposes of the 1998 Regulations and the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.

The tribunal found that the drivers were “limb” workers and that the time when they were logged on to the company's system, other than break times, was working time.

The Employment Tribunal has upheld that decision. It said it was often necessary for a tribunal to glean the true terms of an employment agreement from all the circumstances, taking into account the parties' relative bargaining power.

The tribunal had correctly concluded that the contract did not entirely reflect the true agreement between the parties and that when they logged on, the drivers were undertaking to accept the driving jobs allocated to them.

That was consistent with its finding that a driver had to accept a job allocated in the absence of an acceptable reason, otherwise a sanction could be imposed, which was not consistent with an unfettered right to refuse work while logged on.

Judge David Richardson said: “The ET found that the drivers were workers by virtue of an overarching contract; but it also found in any event that they were workers when they logged on because they were then undertaking to do work or perform services.”

The decision follows similar rulings including Uber drivers and Hermes couriers and is seen as another blow against the gig economy. Uber is currently pursuing a case to the Court of Appeal, which will give some more clarification.

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Case details
EAT (Judge David Richardson, C Edwards, MV McArthur) 14/11/2018

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