Employment status has been the big issue for employment law this year. Taxi drivers, couriers, plumbers and even interpreters have all had cases that relate to sham self-employment and a recent Employment Tribunal case added further argument that agents of these companies will often be workers and not self-employed contractors.
In this case, the Claimants were drivers for Addison Lee, a premium driving service that uses technology to connect drivers with fares. The drivers had to hire a car from Addison Lee, this car displayed company branding.
They also had rules on how to dress, interact with and behave whilst driving – including not being able to discuss politics (hooray) or play music (boo). They could not send a replacement to do their work and drivers would have any driving penalties deducted from their pay and were not able to appeal the decisions themselves.
All drivers had to sign a contract stating that they were self-employed and were thus not entitled to the national minimum wage, holiday pay and could be dismissed if they joined a trade union.
The decision means that many of Addison Lee’s 3800 drivers will now be entitled to backdated minimum wage and holiday pay which is estimated at least £4,000 per driver in backdated holiday pay alone. It also casts doubt on the prospects of success in appealing a similar decision against them.