In another important ruling relating to the gig economy, London Central Tribunal has held that drivers of Addison Lee are not self-employed, but are in fact workers. Drivers brought their case to the Employment Tribunal in July supported by the trade union GMB, who has supported similar claims by Uber drivers.
Addison Lee argued that each driver was individually running a small business. The Tribunal rejected this argument after hearing that drivers, amongst other points:
- Faced fixed costs of hiring Addison Lee Ford Galaxy cars;
- Were obliged to accept jobs once logged into the company’s booking system; and
- Were required to comply with a dress code and code of conduct that, among other things, required asking customers if they had a preferred route.
The Tribunal ruled that three drivers, should have been treated as workers entitling them to receive National Minimum Wage, sick and holiday pay. Lawyers estimate that owed holiday pay for each worker could amount to £4,000 with wages yet to be calculated. The Judge held they were not “in any realistic sense contracting with Addison Lee”, rather that they were in a “subordinate position”.
This decision will come as yet another blow to companies within the gig economy who believe their workers to be self-employed, and a reminder that the reality of each relationship will be considered despite what any contractual provisions may state.