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ET rules Addison Lee drivers entitled to holiday pay and minimum wage - UPDATED

ET rules Addison Lee drivers entitled to holiday pay and minimum wage - UPDATED

UPDATE: Now revised to include details of judgment

In the latest of several worker status cases, an Employment Tribunal has ruled that a group of Addison Lee drivers are “workers” under the Employment Rights Act 1996, and therefore entitled to holiday pay, national minimum wage and certain other limited benefits.

The claim was brought by three drivers as a test case for the 4,000 or so other Addison Lee drivers likely to be directly affected by the ruling.  Commentators will be quick to draw parallels with the similar decision relating to Uber drivers last year (see our analysis here about what it might mean for you), which is currently under appeal.  Like the Uber case, the Addison Lee case was supported by the GMB trade union.

The judgment examines the documents governing the relationship between the drivers and Addison Lee, and in particular the parallel arrangements made by nearly all drivers to lease a car for use in their work from an associated Addison Lee company.  The decision began with the finding that there was a contractual arrangement between a driver and Addison Lee both when the driver had logged on to Addison Lee’s electronic system in order to accept jobs, and in the intervening periods.  The judgment emphasises the various rules Addison Lee imposes on its drivers even when not logged on (e.g. restrictions on their use of the vehicle), and the requirement to immediately return the car when their position as a driver was terminated.  The judgement also highlighted the “symbiotic relationship” between Addison Lee and its drivers.  Crucially, it rejected the suggestion that each Addison Lee driver was, in effect, in business on his own account, with Addison Lee as merely a customer of that business.

The Addison Lee drivers will gain:

  • Protection from unlawful deductions from their wages
  • The right to be paid the national minimum wage (when logged onto the Addison Lee system, even if not in fact driving)
  • Holiday pay
  • Rest breaks
  • Limited protection from dismissal (e.g. whistleblowing)
  • Being subjected to a detriment (e.g. termination of their contract) for being a member of a trade union.

The Tribunal left the thorny question of precisely what financial remedy the drivers should be awarded to another hearing, and it is there that the real financial impact of the decision will be determined.  Practitioners, commentators and 4,000 Addison Lee drivers will be eagerly awaiting more news…