Hermes Latest Company

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.