The drivers’ claims, which were supported by the trade union, GMB, were heard in the London Central Employment Tribunal in July 2017. The tribunal reached its decision in September 2017.
A worker is defined under the Employment Rights Act 1996 as an individual who has entered into or works under:
The classification of an individual as a “worker” as opposed to “self-employed” is important. Workers are entitled to some basic employment rights, including the right to holiday pay and the national minimum wage.
The Claimants presented their case to show that they worked for Addison Lee personally as drivers in accordance with the requirements, polices and systems designed by Addison Lee, and Addison Lee was not a customer of any business that these drivers ran.
In support of this, the Claimants asserted (amongst other things) that:
Addison Lee argued that the Claimants could choose when they worked and that although the drivers leased their cars from an associated company of Addison Lee, they were free to obtain a vehicle elsewhere.
In reaching its decision, the Employment Tribunal found that the drivers were undertaking to work when and as soon as they logged on. The Employment Tribunal found that constituted a strong implication of an underlying agreement and concluded there was an overarching worker contract in place. Furthermore, the Employment Tribunal held that there was expectation that the drivers would be offered work when they logged on and that expectation was realistic. The Employment Tribunal also found the drivers were undertaking to perform driving services personally and that Addison Lee was not a customer of its drivers.
The ruling means the drivers are therefore entitled to rights such as holiday pay and the national minimum wage.
This case again highlights that a tribunal will look at the reality of the working relationship and it is open to an Employment Tribunal to disregard the label that the parties might have stated in contractual documentation between them.
The risks of misclassifying staff as self-employed when they are in fact workers can have far-reaching implications and this case serves as a useful reminder for all companies to review their staff working arrangements.
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