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Are Addison Lee drivers ‘workers’?

This latest decision by the Court of Appeal is the newest update relating to contracted drivers, and follows the earlier decision of the Supreme Court in which Uber drivers were held to be ‘workers’.

In Addison Lee v Lange, the Court of Appeal agreed with the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that despite Addison Lee’s contention and contract stating that drivers were independent contractors and free to turn down work, they were, in fact, workers as sanctions would be applied where work was turned down.

Back in 2017, an employment tribunal found that Addison Lee drivers were workers, a decision which was upheld by EAT in 2018 and 2019. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal, citing the earlier Supreme Court decision in Uber, meaning Addison Lee’s case was unlikely to be successful.

The implication for those that work and offer services within the gig economy is twofold. First, businesses should note that it cannot be stressed more how important it is to have correctly assessed the status of self-employed contractors and not just to rely on wording in a contract. 

Second, there is a continuing call for the Government to introduce “new legislation to provide platform workers with defined and enhanced employment rights” - as referenced in the Covid-19 Select Committee’s April report, Beyond Digital: Planning for a Hybrid World. This report specifically considers platform and gig working and what steps should be taken to ensure appropriate regulation.

Posted on 6 May, 2021 by Ortolan

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