Court rules Addison Lee drivers are workers, not self-employed

Drivers are entitled to national minimum wage and paid holiday, tribunal finds

Minicab drivers for Addison Lee are not self-employed contractors but workers with rights and are entitled to the national minimum wage and paid holiday, according to the latest gig economy verdict from the employment appeals tribunal.

The tribunal confirmed an earlier ruling in a case brought by three drivers for the company that they were entitled to the minimum wage from the time they logged on as ready to take passengers to the time they logged off.

Lawyers for the drivers said the ruling could affect thousands of the company’s drivers. Addison Lee may appeal and said it was carefully reviewing the decision.

Michaell Lange, one of the drivers who brought the case, said: “We wanted Addison Lee to treat drivers fairly; we are happy that the decision that we were workers has been upheld. We now urge Addison Lee to do the decent thing and stop denying its workforce their rights.”

A spokesperson for Addison Lee said it was “disappointed with the ruling as we enjoy a positive relationship with the vast majority of our 3,800 driver partners. In common with most of the industry, the majority are self-employed, and with earnings at a record high, over 60% said they were likely or very likely to recommend working for Addison Lee in our most recent driver satisfaction survey.”

It is the latest of multiple court rulings that people working in the gig economy are wrongly being classed as self-employed and should be considered workers and enjoy rights to the national minimum wage and holiday pay.

In June the supreme court ruled that a heating engineer working for Pimlico Plumbers should be classed as a worker. Last November the employment appeal tribunal upheld a decision that 25 Uber drivers should enjoy worker status. Uber challenged this in the court of appeal last month and is awaiting a ruling.

In June, 65 couriers for Hermes, which delivers parcels for John Lewis, won a similar case. Hermes is likely to appeal

In the one high-profile case where a ruling has been in favour of the company, the central arbitration committee found in 2017 that couriers for the takeaway delivery company Deliveroo were legitimately self-employed. This is subject to a judicial review hearing at the high court starting on Wednesday. The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain argues that a ban on collective bargaining by Deliveroo couriers is in breach of their human rights.

The cases have filled a gap left by ambiguity in employment law that was drafted before the gig economy took off. It now employs an estimated 1.1 million people.

The government is expected soon to announce legislation to clarify the criteria that determines whether people are workers or self-employed by bringing tax and employment laws into alignment, and will give workers in the gig economy the right to request a temporary or fixed-hours contract after 12 months.

• This article was amended on 16 November 2018 because Hermes does not deliver parcels for Marks & Spencer as an earlier version said. This has been corrected.


Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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