Addison Lee drivers win tribunal over worker rights

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Sep 26, 2017
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The company tried to argue that its drivers were self-employed

Mary Turner for The Times

Addison Lee taxi drivers have won a tribunal case arguing that they are workers and therefore entitled to receive the national minimum wage and holiday pay.

In a judgment yesterday that will affect thousands of the pre-booked taxi drivers, the Employment Tribunal said that they were not self-employed, as Addison Lee had argued.

That means the drivers are entitled to essential workers’ rights, including being paid the national minimum wage, holiday pay and the right not to have their contracts terminated because they are members of a trade union.

The drivers’ claims, which were supported by the trade union GMB, were heard in the Central London Employment Tribunal in July. Yesterday’s ruling is in line with a similar tribunal involving the beleaguered taxi-hailing company Uber, which ruled that the company's drivers should be treated as employed workers with rights to minimum wage and sick pay.

Uber’s appeal of that finding is due start at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London tomorrow, at which the company will argue that its 40,000 UK drivers, who are currently self-employed, are free to work where and when they want and enjoy more flexibility than traditional private hire drivers who are also self-employed.

The company is also battling against a decision by Transport for London last week to reject its application for a new licence on the basis that it is not a "fit and proper" private car hire operator. It can continue to operate until it has exhausted the appeals process.

Liana Wood, a lawyer at Leigh Day, the London law firm that represented the Addison Lee drivers, said the judgment “acknowledges the central contribution that Addison Lee’s drivers have made to the success of the company by confirming that its drivers are not self-employed but that they work for Addison Lee as part of Addison Lee’s business.”

Wood added that “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.” 

There will now be a further hearing at the tribunal to calculate the holiday and pay that the drivers should receive.

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