27 September 2017
Courier and taxi service Addison Lee has become the latest gig employer found to be misclassifying its drivers as “self employed”, thus avoiding giving them workers’ rights.
In case brought by GMB on behalf of three drivers – Michaell Lange, Mark Morahan and Mieczysław Olszewsk – a tribunal ruled that the claimants should have been classified as “workers” and provided with basic rights such as holiday pay and the minimum wage.
The drivers revealed that they earned the equivalent of £5 an hour, way under the minimum wage of £7.50 an hour, and their lawyers estimated the value of the holiday pay they were owed at about £4,000 each.
It was ruled that the drivers must now be paid at minimum wage levels and be provided with back pay for the salary and holiday pay that they have been prevented from accessing.
This could have implications for the 3,800 drivers who operate taxis under the Addison Lee banner in London, and is the latest in legal precedents showing the gig economy model does not abide by UK employment law.
Today, Uber will appeal a similar tribunal decision in court, after having been found unlawful in its classification of its drivers as “self employed” in another GMB case last autumn.
Liana Wood, representing the drivers for Leigh Day, said: “Addison Lee advertises itself as a premium driving service and seeks to ensure that its drivers meet the high standard required for that premium service. However, Addison Lee drivers very often work very long hours, in excess of 60 hours a week, in order to just earn enough to cover their basic living costs.”
She continued: “This is a very important decision by the Employment Tribunal and will go some way to addressing these issues. This decision will not just have an impact on the thousands of Addison Lee drivers but, following on from the decision in Uber, on all workers in the so-called gig economy whose employers classify them as self-employed and deny them the rights to which they are entitled.”
“We are seeing a creeping erosion of employment rights as companies misclassify their workers as self-employed so as to avoid paying them holiday pay and the national minimum wage,” she said.