There has been a steady trickle, not quite a stream, as this new economy and its raft of rights are forged.  We still await any changes following the Taylor Review, the Government is a little distracted at the moment! 

General Themes

  • Tribunals and courts are looking beyond what is agreed between parties;
  • Personal performance still key; this can be proved by the wording of documentation (Pimlico Plumbers and Mullins v Smith), and demonstrating that safeguarding checks are made against individuals (Addison Lee v Gasgoine);
  • Commercial reality wins out; Uber AV v Aslam (on appeal): the drivers across the city were not all small business people as Uber asserted (such as Pimlico Plumbers and Mullins v Smith). Individuals cannot be clients nor customers if using employer branded equipment and vehicles;

The latest case involves the unlucky company of Addison Lee who appeared in an earlier ebriefing  Worker status: A tsunami of gig-economy claims. Mr Gasgoine, in the earlier case, was a cycle courier but Mr Lange, in this latest case, was a private-hire driver and hired liveried cars from a company associated with Addison Lee (Addison Lee v Lange & Ors).  The general themes noticed above were again in evidence in the EAT’s judgement. 

  • The wording of the agreement where the drivers were deemed ‘independent contractors’ was set aside;
  • The practicalities of the agreement – the drivers had to log onto a centralised booking system, give reasons they did not accept a booking and could be sanctioned if they didn’t accept bookings were key to the judgement.

The only case that has bucked this trend and decided that individuals were not workers has been that of Independent Workers Union of Great Britain v RooFoods Ltd (t/a Deliveroo) TUR1/985(2016).  This was before the Central Arbitration Committee, so there is a query as to whether it is binding in the Tribunal.  That said, the principles are the same when applied.

  • Personal performance was not required – substitution was permitted and importantly did occur in practice;
  • There were no sanctions if individuals did not pick up a job

There is, we fear, little more to be said at this time as we await the Taylor Review and the judgement from the Court of Appeal in the case of Uber BV v Aslam. 

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