London-based Addison Lee is the latest taxi and courier company to have its drivers’ worker status called into question at the Central London employment tribunal.
The challenge brought by the GMB involves three Addison Lee drivers, represented by law firm Leigh Day, who the union claim are “workers” and should be entitled to the national minimum wage and holiday pay, which they do not currently receive.
Gig economy case law
Uber is contesting the decision of the employment tribunal in October which ruled that its drivers should be entitled to be paid at least the national minimum wage and holiday pay, among other benefits.
This case has implications for more than 30,000 drivers across England and Wales, according to the GMB.
Maria Ludkin, GMB legal director, said: “Addison Lee is shirking its responsibilities through bogus self-employment. Addison Lee drivers work for Addison Lee and are entitled to the same basic rights and benefits as workers in other industries.”
Liana Wood, employment lawyer at Leigh Day, said: “On behalf of our clients we will claim that Addison Lee is wrongly classifying its drivers as self-employed with the result that drivers are denied the rights and protections that they were lawfully intended to have, including the right to not have their contracts terminated because they are members of a trade union.
“We will argue that Addison Lee exerts significant control over its drivers in order to provide a highly trained and vetted driving service to the public. If Addison Lee wishes to operate in this way, and to reap the substantial benefits, then it must acknowledge its responsibilities towards those drivers as workers.”
Luke Green, employment partner at Hill Dickinson, said: “The tribunal will need to decide, like they did for Uber taxi drivers in October 2016, whether Addison Lee’s drivers are actually genuinely self-employed. If they are workers, they are entitled to a whole raft of employment rights including paid holidays and national minimum wage.
“The case is the latest in a long line of similar cases, all of which have so far been decided in favour of worker status, so Addison Lee may struggle to defend the claims.”
In an email to staff, Addison Lee chief executive Andy Boland said: “The relationship between Addison Lee and its drivers remains the backbone of our business and we are committed to maintaining the flexibility and fairness that served both parties so well.
“We will also continue to review our driver deal as market conditions change, to ensure we attract and retain the best drivers in our industry to work in partnership with us.”