Courier cyclist found to have worker status

 

The recently reported Employment Appeal Tribunal case of Addison Lee Ltd v Gascoigne [2018], is the latest judgement in a long line of cases challenging employment status.

Mr Gascoigne was a cycle courier with Addison Lee for several years. In October 2015, he received a new contract indicating he was a self-employed contractor and thereafter he received further contracts almost every three months indicating the same thing. Following problems with his back Gascoigne stopped working with Addison Lee and shortly after he  decided to claim for unpaid holidays.

He was able to successfully establish at an Employment Tribunal (ET) that he had been incorrectly categorised as an “independent contractor” when in fact, he was a worker within the meaning of Regulation 2 of the Working Time Regulations.

The ET agreed with Gascoigne’s premise and held that the written terms of contract did not reflect the true reality of the working relationship between the parties. It found on the evidence presented that, during the period when Gascoigne was 'logged on' to the Addison Lee app, “…the expectation on both sides was that if he was given a job he would do it.”

Addison Lee appealed against the ruling on two grounds:

  1. The ET had erred in law in finding there was evidence of mutuality of obligation i.e. that jobs had to be offered and accepted.

  2. The ET decision was perverse and its multi-factorial assessment of the employment status contained factual errors.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected both grounds of appeal on the basis that both were perverse. Consequently, the ET’s original finding that Gascoigne was a worker and entitled to holiday pay was indeed correct and upheld.

At present most of the disputed status claims appear to be producing similar results and confirming worker status. However, ultimately, each case heard by a tribunal judge, is determined on its own facts, so there is always a possibility that future cases may have a different outcome.

One key point to take away from this case is that where employment status is in dispute, a tribunal judge will closely scrutinise the contractual arrangements and determine what the reality of the working relationship really is.

If you are unsure about the employment status of individuals presently working with your business, call our lawyers at Markel Law to see how we can assist you in identifying the employment status of people who are working with you.