Addison Lee courier wins latest ‘gig economy’ battle

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Aug 03, 2017
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An Addison Lee cycle courier should have classed as a worker, it was ruled. A separate claim relating to the company’s taxi drivers is awaiting a decision

Mary Turner for The Times

Addison Lee is the latest company to lose a “gig economy” legal claim as an employment tribunal ruled yesterday that one of its cycle couriers was entitled to the minimum wage and holiday pay.

Judges on the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled that business had unlawfully treated Christopher Gascoigne as an independent contractor. The tribunal found that, instead, Gascoigne’s role fell within the legal definition of a worker and therefore he was entitled to benefits that the company had been withholding. The amount of holiday pay owed by the company to Gascoigne will be determined in a later hearing.

It was the latest in a string of decisions and pending claims before the courts involving employment status and modern business practices. Jason Moyer-Lee, the general secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, the trade union backing Mr Gascoigne’s claim, said the ruling proved his union’s point: “The law is clear and employers in the so-called gig economy have been choosing to unlawfully deprive their workers of rights. Yet another domino has fallen with regard to the inevitable conclusion that people in the gig economy are workers.”

Moyer-Lee’s union has backed three other claims against the courier companies CitySprint, Excel and eCourier. In all four cases, judges have either ruled in favour of the claimants or the companies have admitted that the couriers were workers and not independent contractors.

Another union, GMB, is bringing a separate claim against Addison Lee over the employment status of one of the company’s private-hire drivers. That case is awaiting a ruling from the employment tribunal.

After yesterday’s ruling, a spokesman for Addison Lee said: “We note the tribunal’s verdict, which we will carefully review. Addison Lee is disappointed with the ruling as we have always had, and are committed to maintaining, a flexible and fair relationship with cycle couriers.”

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