According to the employment appeals tribunal Addison Lee’s drivers are not self employed contractors. If you were to ask Addison Lee they would tell you that they are. Their workers drive an Addison Lee car/van that has Addison Lee permanently displayed on the side. Is it disguised employment?
Interestingly the case was raised by three Addison Lee drivers who claimed that they were entitled to the minimum wage. From the time they logged on ready to take passengers, to the time they logged off, the money earned can vary on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.
This is not the first time that ‘self employed’ employees have fought for rights. In June, 65 couriers for Hermes, which delivers parcels for Marks & Spencer and John Lewis, won a similar case. This could be a new trend developing especially with 2020 looming.
A spokesperson for Addison Lee said it was “disappointed with the ruling as we enjoy a positive relationship with the vast majority of our 3,800 driver partners. In common with most of the industry, the majority are self-employed, and with earnings at a record high, over 60% said they were likely or very likely to recommend working for Addison Lee in our most recent driver satisfaction survey.”
In their shoes
Many years ago I worked as a private hire driver so I can empathise with most cab drivers. There are times of the year when work is slow and combined with a firm having too many drivers, you would be lucky to meet the minimum wage. Sickness and holiday also factor into this and you also have to file your own tax returns or employ an accountant to do it for you. It can be a hard life as a Taxi driver and you have to be willing to work all the hours under the sun and moon to make it rewarding.
The flip side of this is that a lot of private hire drivers work cash in hand and therefore do not declare some earnings (you did not hear that from me). So moving to PAYE will surely ruffle some feathers especially with the higher earners (read those who do not sleep much or sleep in their vehicle).
Going forwards this could have far reaching consequences for both us and the industry’s that use independent drivers. For those that do come under IR35 the increase in employee cost will have to be recovered from somewhere. This could mean that the prices that they charge us will need to increase to reflect this. On the flip side it could also mean that they employ less staff and therefore the time it takes them to provide a service may increase.
Hopefully it will not be to long before the government will announce legislation to clarify the criteria that determines whether people are workers or self-employed. This will help by bringing tax and employment laws into alignment. It will also give workers in the gig economy the right to request a temporary or fixed-hours contract after 12 months.
All in all I believe that the changes that are coming will help people decide what is the right course for them when it comes to their employment status. Being held over a barrel because you are not an employee is not a good place to be. Having those most fundamental of things, rights and a voice, will surely help the situation that many are in.
If you have found yourself in this position or know someone who is then get in touch. We have extensive experience with IR35 and disguised employment and our legal team has helped many of our clients, both agencies and contractors. Give us a call on 020 3819 7220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org