Two cases affecting quite different ends of the vehicular spectrum have continued to follow what appears to be a trend for finding greater employment status.
In the first case, RS Dhillon and GP Dhillon Partnership v HMRC, the first tier tax tribunal has held that drivers acting for a partnership providing haulage services to the construction industry were employees rather than self employed. Although the tax tribunal and the employment tribunal do not always come to the same conclusion on employment status, they do apply the same legal principles including considering personal service, mutuality of obligation, control, provision of equipment, financial risk and so on.
However, it is important to avoid a checklist approach and to consider the relationship between the parties as a whole, and in doing that the tribunal concluded that the drivers were employees on short term contracts. The reality was that the partnership was dictating the terms of the relationship and there was no evidence the drivers were running their own businesses. For the purposes of the tax tribunal this meant the drivers should have been on PAYE with the partnership paying employer NIC's.
In the second case a bicycle courier, Maggie Dewhurst, working for logistics company City Sprint was found by the Employment Tribunal to be a worker and not self employed. This follows on from the well publicised case involving Uber, and there are three other similar claims outstanding against other courier companies. Uber are appealing the decision in their case and City Sprint are said to be closely looking at the judgement.
From the claimant's point of view the finding means that she is entitled to holiday pay, sick pay and the national minimum wage. Obviously from the company's point of view this will increase their costs, particularly as Miss Dewhurst's fellow couriers will, no doubt, be of the view that they too should be treated as workers. From the point of view of the gig economy the finding contributes to the continued confusion about the status of those providing this type of service and arguably puts this flexible way of working at risk.