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Peter Etherington
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Employment Update for Small Businesses
December 2018

Dear Subscriber

This month we have news on the employment status of another group of workers in the “gig economy”, which once again highlights the uncertainty surrounding this area.  Also we are pleased to launch breatheHR’s winter offer.  If you have not yet tried out breatheHR, now is the ideal time.

Please contact me if you would like to find out a bit more about any of the subjects raised in this update or if you need any help or advice.

Please forward this email to any of your contacts who might find it of benefit.

Peter Etherington
Tel: 01664 668164


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Peter Etherington
A “realistic and worldly wise” approach to employment status
The “gig economy” comes under further scrutiny
We have seen a number of cases in recent years looking at the employment status of people working in the so-called “gig economy”.  Uber, Pimlico Plumbers and Deliveroo are just some of the organisations whose  contractual arrangements with those delivering their service have come under scrutiny.

The most recent case to come before the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) is that of Addison Lee v Lange & Ors.   This case, like the Uber one, deals with the status of private hire drivers.  There were robust and detailed contracts in place with the drivers, making it very clear that they were self-employed.  Addison Lee was not obliged to offer any number of jobs (or any jobs) to the drivers and the drivers were not obliged to make themselves available to carry out jobs.  However, as the drivers rented their vehicles through an associated company of Addison Lee, they needed to work between 25 and 30 hours each week just to pay those costs, and most worked 55-60 hours per week in order to earn a living.

The EAT considered it entirely reasonable to take a “realistic and worldly” wise approach, as in a number of earlier cases, as the contract did not adequately address the reality of how the arrangements worked.  For instance, the drivers were obliged to accept jobs whenever they were logged on to the automated booking system, and there were penalties associated with the handling of jobs.

The EAT decided that the drivers were actually workers, and were therefore entitled to paid holidays and to receive the National Minimum Wage for all the time that they were logged on to the booking system.

Tribunals are obviously prepared to put aside clever contractual wording in situations where individuals might otherwise miss out.  Self-employed people are generally those who are in business on their own account and are able to control their own destiny with respect to finding customers, setting prices, managing risks, etc.  So clearly these type of “gig economy” workers don’t fit that model very neatly.

If you have anybody working for you under an atypical arrangement and are concerned, then please contact us for advice.

Breathe Winter Offer
50% off for 3 months
We are partners of breatheHR, a very intuitive and massively useful on-line HR system that makes managing staff holidays and absence an absolute breeze.  It is very simple to use but has a lot of functionality.

At the moment, we can set you up on a free trial and it you subsequently go live in January or February 2019, you will benefit from the first 3 months at 50%.

Please contact us to find out more.

National Minimum and Living Wage Rate​s
The current National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates are:

  • £7.83 per hour for workers aged 25 and over
  • £7.38 per hour for workers aged 21 to 24
  • £5.90 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20
  • £4.20 per hour for workers aged 16 and 17
  • £3.70 per hour for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year*

*N.B. Apprentices over 19 and who have completed at least one year are entitled to the appropriate rate for their age.