A blow to “gig economy” firms in relation to worker status

The English Court of Appeal has refused minicab operator, Addison Lee, permission to appeal the decision that its cycle couriers are workers and not self employed and can therefore enjoy basic employment rights such as holiday pay. This is the final decision and Addison Lee will now have to accept the decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal. This is the first high profile gig-economy case where permission to appeal has been refused. In the case of Addison Lee v Gascoigne, Addison Lee had expressly referred to cycle couriers as being self employed contractors. Mr Gascoigne brought a claim for holiday pay arguing that he was, in fact, a worker. The employment tribunal agreed and ordered Addison Lee to pay him holiday pay. It ruled that there were sufficient mutual obligations when the employee logged onto the employer’s app to establish worker status eg, an expectation that he would be available to work, that he would be provided work, and that he would carry it out as directed by his employer. Addison Lee’s appeal to the Employment Appeals Tribunal was dismissed and thereafter the Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal that decision.

The implications of the refusal are significant for both gig-economy workers and firms. A decision is still awaited from the Supreme Court in the case of Uber BV and others v Aslam and others in which Uber is appealing a Court of Appeal ruling that Uber drivers are workers. Employers will be awaiting this decision with interest. If you have not already done so, employers should review their contacts and arrangements to protect themselves against potential claims.

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