Private hire firm Addison Lee will not be permitted to appeal an Employment Tribunal’s decision that drivers are entitled to workers’ rights, the Court of Appeal has ruled today.
The decision was made in light of the recent Supreme Court judgment stating that Uber drivers, represented by law firm Leigh Day, are entitled to receive the national minimum wage and holiday pay.
Addison Lee’s appeal to the Court of Appeal had been put on hold in anticipation of the Supreme Court judgment.
Already, an Employment Tribunal in 2017 had found that a group of Addison Lee drivers were workers. This was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in 2018.
Leigh Day, which represents more than 100 Addison Lee drivers, believes thousands of drivers could be entitled to an average of £10,000 in compensation.
The private hire company, which provides services for well-known clients such as ITV, Sky and the BBC, will only be legally required to compensate those who have brought a claim.
Addison Lee Driver David Bollard, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, said: “It’s not just the financial side, it’s also the recognition that the way they treat their workers isn’t right.
“I worked for Addison Lee for more than four years and over that time the treatment of drivers seemed to get worse.
“There’s a revolving door of drivers which means they don’t really care about you as individuals because you’re easily replaced.”
Liana Wood, a solicitor in the employment team at Leigh Day, said: “This is a huge decision in favour of Addison Lee drivers and yet another blow to big firms operating in the gig economy.
“Leigh Day has been fighting for workers’ rights on behalf of our clients for several years, so I’m delighted that the end is now finally in sight for these hard-working drivers who deserve to be treated fairly.
“This decision follows hot on the heels of the landmark Uber judgment in the Supreme Court. At Leigh Day we hope that 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.”
Leigh Day also represents clients from delivery company Stuart in a similar workers’ rights claim.
In May 2018, a Stuart courier succeeded in a claim that he was a worker in the Employment Tribunal, with this decision upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in December 2019.
A hearing date in the Court of Appeal has been fixed for October 2021 after a further appeal by Stuart.
As well as individual claimants, Leigh Day is also acting for some GMB members who drive for Addison Lee. Steve Garelick, GMB Regional Organiser, said: “Addison Lee had ample opportunity to do the right thing by drivers and sit down and talk with GMB about ensuring their workers were treated within the law. They chose instead to pay lawyers to try and argue the impossible.
“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.
“GMB will assist our members in exposing the reality of the working relationship.
"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.”