Drivers for taxi firm Addison Lee are employees, not self-employed contractors, a court ruling has confirmed.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected the taxi firm's argument that its drivers are self-employed contractors running their own businesses. It means that its drivers are classified as workers and should be paid the minimum wage and holiday pay.
GMB, who brought the case, said this is a “huge win” against “bogus self-employment.”
Full workers’ rights
“Once again the courts have agreed Addison Lee drivers are legally entitled to workers’ rights such as the national minimum wage and holiday pay rights,” Sue Harris, the union’s legal director, said.
“Other employers should take note – GMB will not stop pursuing these exploitative companies on behalf of our members.”
More claims to come
The ruling applies to three individuals who brought this claim against Addison Lee. All have left the company and are seeking compensation.
However, more drivers are now expected to bring claims against the taxi firm and put further pressure on it to change its practices.
“We decided to bring this claim in 2016 because we wanted Addison Lee to treat drivers fairly; we are happy that the decision that we were workers for Addison Lee has been upheld,” Michaell Lange, one of the claimants, said. “We now urge Addison Lee to do the decent thing and stop denying its workforce of over 4,000 drivers their rights.”
Liana Wood, a solicitor representing the drivers, confirmed to the BBC that claims from about 40 other current and former Addison Lee drivers would now proceed and had a good chance of succeeding.
Denied basic rights
“It is clear that Addison Lee’s business model of providing a fleet of highly trained, regulated drivers is incompatible with their arguments that drivers are not workers who are entitled to workers’ fundamental rights,” Wood said.
“We hope that Addison Lee will accept this decision; drivers shouldn’t have to continue to work very long hours, often in excess of 60 hours per week, to earn just enough to meet their basic living costs.”
Addison Lee is not the only “gig-economy” company to have lost the argument that its workers are, indeed, workers and not genuinely self-employed.
Uber is next
All eyes are now on Uber’s appeal against a similar ruling. It argued that an employment tribunal “fundamentally misunderstood” how it operated.
But if its drivers go on to be classified as workers, they too will be entitled to paid holiday and the minimum wage. Unions say this could be worth £18,000 per driver.