A taxi driver’s car rental payments and uniform costs should have been deducted from his pay for the purposes of meeting national minimum wage requirements, according to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
Claimant Mr W Augustine was employed as a driver by taxi firm Data Cars. He claimed he had been paid less than the national minimum wage once vehicle rental and expenses for his uniform had been taken into account.
Augustine told the employment tribunal that he was required to pay fees totalling £160 per week to the company incorporating a “circuit fee” of £148 and an equipment rental fee of £12, which covered the booking dispatch system in his car.
Additionally, he began renting a vehicle from Data Cars and was required by Transport for London to acquire a certain level of insurance, which cost just over £2,000. There were also valet costs to keep the vehicle clean, which amounted to more than £300 while Augustine was working for the firm.
The initial tribunal ruled that the payments for vehicle rental and uniform fell outside of the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015, while the payments for insurance and valeting should be considered valid employment expenses.
It deemed that he was not obliged to purchase a uniform as this was only needed for a certain level of work. Similarly he had the option of being an “owner driver” and using his own car rather than leasing one from the company, so decided that these expenses fell outside the regulations.
However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has now ruled that these expenses were directly connected to his employment with Data Cars.
In the EAT’s judgment, Judge Auerbach said the initial tribunal had erred in not including these expenses in the claim because it had not applied the relevant legal test to whether they were connected to employment.
“The fact that the claimant could have met his obligation by using his own vehicle, if he had one, is not relevant to the application of that test,” it said.
“What was relevant was whether the expenditure incurred by the claimant was in connection with the employment.”
On the issue of uniform, the EAT again concluded that the tribunal had erred in its approach.
The original tribunal had claimed that uniform was optional, and should therefore fall outside minimum wage regulations.
But the EAT said Augustine had been “designated a gold driver” by the company and as such was required to wear a uniform, so this expense was directly related to his employment.
The case has now been referred back to the tribunal for a fresh hearing to consider the appropriate award.