Addison Lee, the London based private cab hire and courier service, recently represented at an employment tribunal, have been denied the right to appeal meaning that their workers must be considered employees by law. The implications of this for Addison Lee are extensive as it may see thousands of workers able to claim back-pay as they can now be considered employees by law.
The court’s decision will mean that all of Addison Lee’s employees will be entitled to all basic employment rights such as minimum wage, holiday and sick pay.
The decision comes off the back of the widely publicized high court case for Uber that took place back in February. This hearing, which took place at The Supreme Court in London, ruled against Uber’s identity as an intermediary, drawing on several aspects of the control Uber held over it’s employees. These aspects included the fares which are dictated by Uber, limiting how much drivers could earn as well as contracted terms that Uber drivers could not dispute.
Addison Lee’s employees’ court representatives, the law firm Leigh Day, have said that Addison Lee workers could be entitled to an average of £10,000 each in compensation.
This isn’t the first time Addison Lee would appear in front of an employment tribunal, with a 2017 tribunal ruling their workers as dependent contractors; a decision that would soon after be upheld in an Employment Appeal Tribunal.
The ET’s decision that would lead to the final verdict against Addison Lee’s appeal was that workers couldn’t realistically choose which jobs they could take, as employees had to essentially agree to work as soon as they would log on to the devices given to them.
Further issues were also taken with the contractual requirement for vehicles to display firm branding even for when workers aren’t on a shift. Furthermore, recurring fixed costs for vehicle hiring were also outlined as a method that obligates workers to login to their fixed devices and therefore agree to work.
The implications of The High Courts decision for Addison Lee may have profound and lasting effects on the gig economy as a whole as this is the first time for a gig economy organization to be refused the right to appeal for a decision relating to workers rights.
Addison Lee has yet to provide comment on the decision to refuse right to appeal. However, Derek Cribb, CEO of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, has made comments noting further action must be taken to make it clearer for employers how to recognize whether an employee is self employed.
“We cannot continue in a situation where the only way to define self-employment is through court case after court case.” – Derek Cribb
For more information regarding determining employment status for employees in 2021, see our article about IR35.
For any HR needs or guidance about employee contracts, visit our website and schedule a call.