Getting Employment Status Right and the Impact of Uber and Addison Lee

May 6, 2021


In February 2021, the Supreme Court found that drivers for Uber should be classed as workers rather than self-employed contractors, and therefore benefited from additional rights such as national minimum wage and holiday pay. Following on from this, car and courier company Addison Lee has now also lost a case in the Court of Appeal over whether its drivers should be awarded worker status.

This decision quickly follows on from the landmark Uber judgement and further reinforces the impact of it on the gig economy. Most recently, Just Eat has announced it will give its delivery drivers worker status.

However, it is not just businesses working in the gig economy which need to be aware of these issues – any employer which engages self-employed contractors must also consider whether this is a genuine classification or whether they could claim to be workers in employment law or tax terms.

The Supreme Court in the Uber case, and the Court of Appeal in Addison Lee, emphasised that any written contract in place between the parties will not necessarily reflect the reality of the situation: the Tribunals must consider the factual reality of the relationship above all. For example, factors such as whether the contractor is obliged to accept work when offered it, whether they are entitled to provide a substitute if they are unavailable for work, and whether they are under the day-to-day control of the business are all now (following Uber) more important than what is written in any contract.

The recent cases show that employers must be mindful of how they are categorising their contractors in terms of employment status. This is also important for the purposes of tax, as the recent changes to the IR35 legislation mean that all medium and large businesses must carry out an assessment of employment status in relation to each worker.

Employers should:

  • Assess employment status for each contractor they engage;

  • Be mindful of their duties in respect of IR35, which requires a “status determination statement” to be created in respect of each contractor;

  • Ensure that contracts of employment are well-drafted, reflecting the reality of working arrangements, and are fitting to the organisation and sector; and

  • Ensure that obligations towards contractors such as written particulars, minimum wage and holiday pay are complied with as appropriate if they are



Contact Our Team
Catherine Burke
View Profile
Damian Phillips
View Profile
Fflur Jones
Managing Partner
View Profile
Gareth Wedge
View Profile
Mark Rostron
View Profile
Nick O’Sullivan
View Profile
Owen John
View Profile
Rhodri Lewis
View Profile
Stephen Thompson
View Profile

I have worked with Darwin Gray for a number of years and the level of service, professionalism and timely response is second to none. I would highly recommend Darwin Gray to any business.”

Becs Beslee
Dice FM Ltd

Darwin Gray have provided us with a first-class service for many years now. They really take the time to understand our business and develop relationships which results in advice and support that is contextualised and effective.”

Rebecca Cooper
ACT Training

We have worked with Darwin Gray for several years and have always found their services and advice to be first class.”

Karen Gale
Stepping Stones Group

An extremely professional and sincere company who make time for your queries and understand the need to break down certain facts and information to ensure everything is understood perfectly. I would highly recommend the company to anyone looking for any type of legal advice”

Gwawr Booth
Portal Training Ltd

PSS has worked with Darwin Gray for many years. We have always received an excellent service. Prompt and professional advice and support.”

Ledia Shabani
Property Support Services UK Ltd

We have used several departments within DG recently and we have been very pleased with an effective, efficient and down to earth service. Very happy thus far and I expect that we will continue to use DG.”

Guto Bebb
Farmers’ Union of Wales

Darwin Gray offer us truly superb services. Very professional, quick and services available bilingually which is very important to us, highly recommend.”

Iwan Hywel
Mentrau Iaith Cymru

My “go to” in urgent and time sensitive cases for direction, support and advice. The team are quick to respond to calls or emails for advice and support on all matters. Always explain complex matters in a way a lay person can easily understand.”

Margot Adams
Guarding UK Ltd