The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has given its latest judgment in the ongoing gig economy series of claims, upholding the tribunal’s finding that a cycle courier is a worker.
Addison Lee v Gascoigne, UKEAT/0289/17
The claimant had worked for Addison Lee as a cycle courier for a period of nine years. After seven years, he had signed a new contract that expressly referred to him being a self-employed contractor. He brought a claim against Addison Lee for holiday pay. The employment tribunal was satisfied that once he had logged into the respondent’s app, there was sufficient mutuality of obligation to meet the test for a ‘worker’. The wording of the contract incorrectly portrayed the working relationship. Addison Lee appealed.
The EAT dismissed the respondent’s appeal. Whilst there was no requirement for the claimant to log into the app, once he had done so he was available to work and it was expected that he would carry out work as directed by the respondent’s controller. The fact that a courier could choose to log off was not inconsistent with the existence of mutuality of obligation during the period when he was logged into the app. The EAT was satisfied that there was no grounds to reject the result of the tribunal’s multi-factorial assessment that Mr Gascoigne was a worker.
This decision follows the same direction as the vast majority of recent cases dealing with employment status. It is looking increasingly unlikely that employers in the ‘gig economy’ will successfully persuade the courts that they engage self-employed contractors rather than workers. Judgment is still awaited in the Pimlico Plumbers case, which was heard by the Supreme Court in February 2018. If the Court of Appeal decision in that case is upheld, it will be even harder for employers to avoid treating those engaged in the gig economy as ‘workers’.