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A Tribunal has Ruled that a Cycle Courier was a Worker and not a Genuinely Self-Employed Independent Contractor!

Another blow to the Gig Economy? In the case of Gascoigne v Addison Lee Ltd the tribunal has ruled a cycle courier’s contract did not reflect the reality of the working relationship. This is because the courier was obliged to perform work personally for the company under its control, and was also subject to a classic work for wage bargain.

Background

When a tribunal considers a query about an individual’s worker status, it will look at the reality and context of the working relationship as oppose to the nominal label that the two parties have stated in any contract between them. In the case of Addison, Mr Gascoigne worked as a cycle courier for Addison Lee from 2008 until 2017. His contract was drafted in such a way as to try wherever possible to negate his worker status and assert his status as an independent contractor. As such, Mr Gascoigne was not afforded the rights that a worker would have been entitled to. Mr Gascoigne made a holiday pay claim to the Tribunal against Addison Lee asserting he was entitled to this worker right.

Decision

The tribunal found that the contract between Mr Gascoigne and Addison Lee did not portray the actual relationship between the two parties. The reality was that Mr Gascoigne and Addison Lee worked under a contract whereby the claimant was expected to carry out work for the company under its direction. Furthermore, Mr Gascoigne performed the work personally, and not because Addison Lee was his customer. Interestingly as well, despite Mr Gascoigne being registered as self-employed and paying his own tax and national insurance, this was held not to be incompatible with worker status. As such, the Tribunal determined Mr Gascoigne was a worker and his holiday pay claim was well founded. The matter would therefore proceed to a remedy hearing if a remedy could not be agreed.

Comment

This case has quickly followed on from the Taylor Report, and is a strong suggestion that the report’s recommendation that ‘Gig Economy’ workers should be classed as ‘dependent contractors’ as opposed to ‘independent contractors’ will be followed by the courts in future. However, an appeal in the Uber case is to be heard by the EAT towards the end of September 2017, and Pimlico Plumbers have recently been given leave to appeal their own case to the Supreme Court. Watch this space!

This bulletin is for general guidance purposes only and should not be used for any other purpose.

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