EAT agrees that Addison Lee drivers are workers
Thursday 22nd November 2018
The EAT has upheld the ET’s finding that private hire drivers for Addison Lee have worker status and are therefore entitled to various employment rights including the national minimum wage and 5.6 weeks of paid holiday.
The ET decided that the definition of worker under the ERA 1996 was met and in doing so disregarded the contrary provisions of the contractual documentation. It concluded that there was an overarching agreement establishing some mutuality of obligation. Of particular importance was the requirement for drivers to hire vehicles, meaning they had to work between 25-30 hours to cover the associated costs. Consequently, the ET considered there to be an economic obligation on drivers to log on Addison Lee’s system to ensure these costs were covered and a realistic expectation that they would then be offered work.
The ET also found that had there been no overarching agreement, the drivers still satisfied the definition of worker. Once logged in they were agreeing to accept driving jobs allocated to them and to perform that work personally. The ET considered, for the purposes of the WTR, that whilst logged in the driver’s were at the “disposal” of Addison Lee and therefore (unless on a break) were working during this time whether or not they were actually driving. Addison Lee appealed.
The EAT held the ET had correctly applied previous case law and had been entitled to disregard the contractual provisions, having found that they did not reflect the reality of the working arrangements. Although the drivers did have flexibility as to when and where they logged on to work, the EAT considered it unrealistic to suggest that either party believed they were under no obligation at all. This was especially so given the expense of training and vetting drivers incurred by Addison Lee and the vehicle hire costs incurred by the drivers.
The EAT concluded that the ET was entitled to take a “realistic and worldly wise” approach and agreed that, even in the absence of an overarching agreement, the definition of worker was satisfied. The EAT determined that while drivers were logged in, there was regular offer and acceptance of work, which clearly resulted in worker status.
All information in this update is intended for general guidance only and is not intended to be comprehensive, or to provide legal advice.