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Worker Status

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Did the tribunal err in concluding that a London black-cab driver was in business on his own account and not a 'worker' when he was engaged via the Respondent's 'Mytaxi' App?

No, held the EAT in Johnson v Transopco Ltd.

The Claimant had used the Respondent's 'Mytaxi' app to source passengers, whilst still sourcing rides as a self-employed taxi driver. He could reject jobs offered through the app without penalty and ply his own trade instead, and could reject 'scrub' bookings already made without penalty in certain circumstances. The Claimant brought various claims after the relationship ended. For these claims, he had to be at least a 'worker' (as defined in s230(3) Employment Rights Act 1996). At a preliminary hearing, his claims were dismissed as the tribunal found that the Claimant was in business on his own account, with the Respondent being his 'client or customer'. 

The EAT rejected various grounds of appeal. The tribunal was entitled to conclude that the Claimant and Respondent contracted with each other as two independent businesses, so the Respondent was a customer of the Claimant's business. The difference in size between the two businesses was not material. The Respondent was not acting as an 'agent' sourcing passengers for the Claimant. Passengers booking rides with the Respondent via the app had a separate contract with the Respondent, whilst the Claimant and Respondent had their own contract. The case is a useful reminder that 'status' cases turn on their own facts, and gives helpful pointers to 'driver' cases.

Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Worknest LAW for preparing this case summary.