Worker or Self Employed - Addison Lee is back at the EAT

14th June 2018

Last year’s HR newsletters discussed the case of Addison Lee in which the Employment Tribunal held that Addison Lee Couriers were workers. Addison Lee appealed on the basis that the mutuality of obligation was not sufficient to suggest a “worker” relationship and that in addition, that the employee was not a “limb (b) worker”.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) specifically referred to the fact that the employee could find himself in a ‘tricky’ situation if he refused to undertake particular jobs. The EAT also found that the employee was subject to a high degree of restriction and control as to his location so that Addison Lee could strategically utilise the employee for deliveries in the latter part of any day.

The EAT provided the following quote from the Employment Tribunal’s judgment “Suffice to say that from the time the claimant logged in, room for manoeuvre was literally limited and both sides expected that he was available for work, would be provided with it and that he would carry it out as directed by the controller.”

The EAT went on to say that the contract (which was itself not properly negotiated), was not reflective of the reality of the relationship.

Employer Considerations

The position in respect of the “gig” economy seems to be following a clear trend. Individuals that were previously labelled as self employed contractors appear to be finding success in establishing the fact that they are workers.

The string of case law alongside the Taylor Review conducted in 2018 suggests that employers need to take care when deciding upon the employment status of their employees. More often than not, the status of workers is the product of strategic business decisions. However, employers need to be sure that what they intend to happen in practice is actually happening in reality with regards to the manner in which the “self employed contractors” are undertaking work.


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