No this is not a post about that well known 80’s sitcom, nor is it a rant about how much taxi’s cost or a joke about the typical questions taxi drivers must get asked on a daily basis and most definitely every time I get a taxi with my husband! (what time did you start?).
Quite the opposite.
I was recently contacted by a client in relation to how to deal with a grievance they have received from one of their drivers. His grievance centred around his right to paid holidays amongst other things. When the client first contacted me the first thing I asked was, are they an employee?
The client was adamant that the driver was self-employed and even sent me over a copy of the contract that they had issued and had been signed by the driver in question. On the face of it the contract appeared to state that the driver was self-employed, and it contained the usual terms I would expect to see regarding the driver’s responsibility to pay tax etc. The client also directed my attention to the absence of any clause in the contract regarding the driver’s entitlement to holiday pay and also confirmed that they had never paid any of their drivers when they had taken holiday.
However, when I got down to the nitty gritty and looked at how the relationship worked in practice, it was clear that the driver was at the very least a worker but more than likely an employee.
It was with a heavy heart that I had to let the client know that their self-employed drivers were in fact workers and possibly even employees and with that came an obligation to do things such as pay them NMW and holiday pay.
So, what did we do? That was simple, we defined them as workers and started treating them as such, including paying them holiday pay.
We then kept our fingers crossed that none of them submitted a claim for backdated holiday pay!
For those of you wondering, none of them have. The individual who raised the issue was more than happy with the change in how things would operate in the future and all is well.
The result – happy and motivated workers!
So, the moral of the story is that it doesn’t really matter what label you place on the relationship, it all comes down to what is going on in practice. Given the recent judgement in the UBER case, it is more important than ever to make sure that you know the status of everyone carrying out work on your behalf and that you treat them fairly and properly, whatever their status.