Following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Uber drivers in February, there has been another interesting development in the gig economy, as Addison Lee drivers have now been granted ‘worker’ status.
This conclusion was reached by the Court of Appeal after the private hire company was unsuccessful in overturning an employment tribunal decision from 2017, which was upheld in 2018 (Addison Lee Ltd v Lange).
The unsuccessful appeal means that Addison Lee drivers are entitled to earn the national minimum wage and access holiday pay, which could lead to further backpay claims from workers.
In the employment tribunal, it was found that although the drivers had the right to choose when to accept jobs, the reality was that they were beginning to work from the moment they opened the booking app.
The impact of the Supreme Court’s Uber ruling
With many similarities existing between the Uber case and this one, Lord Justice Bean stated that Addison Lee’s chances of success were highly unlikely.
As a result, the Court of Appeal decided that the findings from the tribunal were unassailable.
Interestingly, the reasons for this decision are almost identical to those used in the Uber case, where drivers had been deemed ‘workers’ from the moment they switched their apps on to the moment they were switched off.
What does this mean for employers in the gig economy?
When reflecting on these decisions, businesses that utilise gig economy individuals should ensure that they are assessing the actuality of their relationships.
Not only should contractual relationships be reviewed, but there should also be an honest assessment of the reality of the individual’s experience.
As we have seen already, discrepancies between contracts and the actual experience of the individual can lead to tribunal claims with potentially significant implications.