Yet another authority on employment status in the ‘gig economy’

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has upheld an Employment Tribunal decision from last year which found that an Addison Lee cycle courier was a worker and  was not a self-employed contractor.

The case brought by Christopher Gascoigne was sponsored throughout by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).  This body has also been involved in sponsoring other important cases in this arena.

The Employment Tribunal at first instance found that Mr Gascoigne was not an independent contractor even though this was written into his terms and conditions which had to be re-signed every three months, with the strict stipulation that ‘ nothing in this agreement shall render you an employee, worker, agent or partner’ which was the argument put forward by Addison Lee.

They also argued that Mr Gascoigne was under no legal obligation to work and that he was free to accept or decline jobs that were offered to him when he logged onto Addison Lee’s system.   The Employment Tribunal found that this did not reflect the reality of the working relationship.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal found that Mr Gascoigne was in reality not free to decline jobs and that his location was tightly controlled to the point where he had a full working day with deliveries lined up in advance that he was obliged to carry out.  There was in effect no opportunity to reject the work.   It therefore boils down to the issue of control which is a fundamental ingredient in establishing employment/worker status.

The IWGB welcomed the decision and warned that it should come as nothing as a surprise and laid the blame at the door of the Government who it claims by doing nothing, are depriving workers of their full legal rights and who are failing to clarify the status workers in the gig economy as recommended by the Taylor review.

Once again this authority demonstrates that businesses in the gig economy cannot continue to circumvent employment laws but masquerading workers as self-employed contractors, and that by continuing to do so  they are at risk of challenge.

If you have any concerns about employment or worker status then contact Steven Eckett at Meaby & Co for timely advice: seckett@meaby.co.uk or call 0207 703 5034.

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