Addison Lee drivers are workers, not self-employed, and are entitled to the national minimum wage and holiday pay, the Court of Appeal has confirmed.
The minicab firm has had its application to appeal against the rulings of the employment tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed, with Lord Justice Bean stating that it is unlikely to succeed following the recent Uber BV vs Aslam and Others judgment, in which the Supreme Court found Uber drivers are workers.
In 2017, an employment tribunal found that Addison Lee drivers Mr Lange, Mr Olszewski and Mr Morahan were workers and should be paid while they were logged onto Addison Lee’s driver portal system.
It found there was an overarching contract between each claimant and Addison Lee, and that each time they logged on to the app the driver was undertaking to accept jobs allocated to them and to perform that work personally.
This judgment was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in 2018 and in 2019, Addison Lee was given permission to appeal the ruling, but only after the Uber v Aslam judgment was reached by the Supreme Court.
However, in a decision handed down yesterday, Lord Justice Bean said Addison Lee’s appeal should not proceed as it was unlikely to be successful.
The judgment says: “There is no arguable error in the finding of the ET, upheld by the EAT, that in the present case the claimants were limb (b) workers. Now that the Supreme Court in Uber has emphatically reaffirmed the Autoclenz principle, there is no longer a reasonable prospect of success in overturning that finding in the present case and there is no compelling reason why this appeal should proceed further.”
Law firm Leigh Day, which represents more than 100 Addison Lee drivers, believes thousands of drivers could be entitled to an average of £10,000 in compensation, but only if they bring a claim.
Liana Wood, employment solicitor at Leigh Day, said: “This is a huge decision in favour of Addison Lee drivers and yet another blow to big firms operating in the gig economy.
“Leigh Day has been fighting for workers’ rights on behalf of our clients for several years, so I’m delighted that the end is now finally in sight for these hard-working drivers who deserve to be treated fairly.
“This decision follows hot on the heels of the landmark Uber judgment in the Supreme Court. At Leigh Day we hope that other companies with similar business models to Uber and Addison Lee recognise that they cannot continue to deny people basic rights such as holiday pay and the national minimum wage.”
We hope that other companies with similar business models to Uber and Addison Lee recognise that they cannot continue to deny people basic rights such as holiday pay and the national minimum wage” – Liana Wood, Leigh Day
Addison Lee driver David Bollard, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, said: “It’s not just the financial side, it’s also the recognition that the way they treat their workers isn’t right.
“I worked for Addison Lee for more than four years and over that time the treatment of drivers seemed to get worse.
“There’s a revolving door of drivers which means they don’t really care about you as individuals because you’re easily replaced.”
Steve Garelick, regional organiser at the GMB union, said: “Addison Lee had ample opportunity to do the right thing by drivers and sit down and talk with GMB about ensuring their workers were treated within the law. They chose instead to pay lawyers to try and argue the impossible.
“This judgment is not based just on law but good common sense and sends a further message to those who would continue to exploit workers through a bogus self-employment model.”
Jonathan Chamberlain, an employment partner at law firm,Gowling WLG, said the judgment shows that courts will not have much patience for gig economy providers that attempt to argue why their model is different from Uber’s.
“They will have to show they are very different in practice and not hide behind densely-drafted contracts,” he added.
Addison Lee has been contacted for a response.