Is an employment tribunal entitled to use a "realistic and worldly wise" approach to determining employment status?
Yes, held the EAT in Addison Lee v Lange & Lange and Ors.
The Claimants were all private hire drivers, who entered into an agreement to hire liveried cars from a company associated with Addison Lee. There was, as part of the agreement, a portable computer known as an XDA which each driver had to log into. Once they did, work was allocated automatically to them via the XDA and they had to provide reasons if a job was refused. If they did not, there were sanctions in place.
The contractual documents described each Claimant as an independent contractor. Addison Lee appealed the tribunal's findings that each was a worker, arguing that the tribunal had wrongly disapplied parts of the agreement in finding there was an obligation to do some work. In rejecting that argument, the EAT said:
"We consider that the tribunal, applying the 'realistic and worldly wise' approach mandated by Autoclenz, was entitled to reach the conclusion it did."
A separate ground of appeal relating to working time was rejected. That confirmed that each Claimant was 'working' when logged in to the XDA.
Thanks to Matthew Jackson of 10 KBW for preparing this case summary.