The Gig Economy

Addison Lee Ltd v Gascoigne

In September 2017, we commented on the Employment Tribunal decision where it was found that Addison Lee couriers should have been classified as workers, rather than self-employed, and were therefore entitled to rights such as the national minimum wage and holiday pay.

Addison Lee appealed to the EAT on two grounds; that there was no mutuality of obligation and that the couriers were not workers.

Are Addison Lee couriers workers?

The Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected Addison Lee’s appeal upholding the finding of worker status for Mr Gascoigne and other couriers.

The decision from the EAT mainly came down to control. When tested, Addison Lee exercised control over how couriers did their job and when; there was little room for manoeuvre when the couriers were logged in to their app. The Tribunal found that couriers “needed to be responsive and work quickly during a tightly controlled working day” to ensure prompt deliveries. Addison Lee supplied a radio, a palm top computer, an app and a GPS tracker. It also provided books of receipts and a branded bag and t-shirt to the couriers. The EAT therefore upheld that there was a mutuality of obligation once an individual job was accepted and until it was completed. Most significantly, this was due to a work/wage bargain that arose when a job was accepted.


How organisations describe their relationships with workers and self-employed contractors is not determinative. The reality of the relationship is what must be examined by the Employment Tribunal in employment status claims. If your business has relationships with ‘self-employed’ contractors who provide services only to your business and do so on a regular basis, it may be worthwhile reviewing the arrangements that are in place to check their actual status. It is also worthwhile conducting an audit of all persons providing services to your business who are not employees to ensure that appropriate contractual arrangements are in place and to assess the risks if any such relationships pose in the future.

If you have any queries in relation to employment status or any other HR queries then please do not hesitate to contact Joanne Holborn, Tom Scaife or Caroline Rayner on 01228 552600 or 01524 548494.

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