Thousands of Addison Lee drivers could be entitled to an average £10,000 each in compensation after the court of appeal found they were “workers” entitled to the national minimum wage and paid holiday.
Lord Justice Bean dismissed an appeal by Addison Lee against a 2017 employment tribunal that found that three drivers for the company were entitled to the minimum wage from the time they logged on as ready to take passengers to the time they logged off. That decision was also upheld by the employment appeal tribunal in 2018.
The ruling is the latest victory for gig economy workers after the UK supreme court dismissed Uber’s appeal against a landmark employment tribunal, which found that its drivers should be classed as workers with access to the minimum wage and paid holidays.
Addison Lee has 28 days in which it could appeal to the supreme court but it is not expected to do so.
Liana Wood, a solicitor at the Leigh Day law firm that represented about 100 drivers in the case, said: “This is a huge decision in favour of Addison Lee drivers and yet another blow to big firms operating in the gig economy.
“This decision follows hot on the heels of the landmark Uber judgment in the supreme court. At Leigh Day we hope other companies with similar business models to Uber and Addison Lee recognise that they cannot continue to deny people basic rights such as holiday pay and the national minimum wage.”
Steve Garelick, a regional organiser at GMB union, which backed some of members to bring the case, said: “This judgment is not based just on law but good common sense and sends a further message to those who would continue to exploit workers through a bogus self-employment model.
“We urge Addison Lee to accept the various rulings of the court and sit down with GMB to discuss how improved conditions for drivers makes for a better workplace for all.”
A spokesperson for Addison Lee said: “This is a historic case, relating to three drivers who stopped driving for us four years ago. Since then, we have since changed our working practices and the way we engage with drivers to ensure we maintain the flexibility our drivers demand while continuing to provide the best earning opportunity for the highest calibre professional drivers.
“In the last 12 months, under new management, Addison Lee has invested heavily to support our drivers’ livelihoods and to keep them and our passengers safe during the pandemic. We will continue to evolve our business model to ensure we continue to deliver for our drivers and customers alike.”