Could Addison Lee losing the employment status case be the end of the online platform model?

15 November 2018


  • The Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected the argument that the drivers were self-employed contactors running their own business and ruled they are workers
  • It was confirmed that the terms and conditions that the drivers signed up to did not reflect the true working practices
  • The workers should be entitled to employment rights including holiday pay and the national minimum wage
  • Addison Lee may choose to appeal the decision at the Court of Appeal

Aspire’s Comment

There have been several tribunals and court rulings focused on the gig economy model including Amazon, Deliveroo, Hermes and Uber. All eyes will be on the outcome of Uber’s case that was heard in the Court of Appeal on 31 October and 1 November 2018.

Most of the Tribunal outcomes have been ruled against the employer, categorising those engaged as self-employed individuals as workers or employees, however, in the case of Deliveroo, the Central Arbitration Committee decided that couriers are self-employed.

When workers are granted employee or worker rights it raises significant financial implications as the workers could make a claim for their retrospective employment rights, including holiday pay and minimum wage. The fact that the drivers are not employed is the backbone of the online platform model as this allows Uber and Addison Lee to keep their fares low, with employment costs being saved.

If you hire self-employed individuals can you answer yes to the following questions?

1. Does my contract show that the business is engaging with someone who is self-employed?

2. Does the workers’ contract reflect the reality of their actual working day?

3. Are they able to provide a substitute?

If you cannot answer yes to all three questions, you are at high risk of facing a tribunal claim for workers’ rights. Could you afford to pay every ‘self-employed individual’ holiday pay and minimum wage? If not, we suggest that you arrange an audit from Aspire to evaluate whether employment status has been correctly determined and minimise any risk of a worker’s claim.

The common trend of these cases further highlights false self-employment and set an example which may encourage many more to follow suit.

To view a copy of the case transcript click here.