Driver loses appeal over worker status with MyTaxi app

A driver has lost his appeal against a tribunal ruling that he should not be classified as a worker employed by MyTaxi app.

The case involved Christopher Johnson v Transopco UK Ltd.

From 2014 Johnson worked full time in business on his own account as a black-cab driver in London.

In February 2017 he registered as a driver on TUK's Mytaxi app.

Between April 2017 and April 2018, he completed 282 trips via the app at a total value of £4,560.48 (after commission).

In the same period, he earned £30,472.45 as a self-employed driver through other sources.

Johnson claimed that he should be classed as a 'worker', as defined in the Employment Rights Act 1996, and qualify for the corresponding benefits such as holiday and sick pay.

The Employment Tribunal ruled against him. It held that passengers paid for transportation services with TUK, and these services were delivered by drivers based on their own contract with TUK.

Johnson had an obligation of personal service to the company under that contract.

However, in the tribunal's view, he was not a worker. Rather, TUK Ltd was a 'client or customer' of Johnson's taxi-driving business.

In reaching that conclusion, the tribunal observed that Johnson could provide his services as infrequently or as often as he wanted, could dictate the timing of those services, and was not subject to control by TUK in the way in which those services were undertaken.

It further noted that, on average, he carried out 1.5 trips a day via the app, which represented less than 15% of his overall income derived from taxi-driving.

While drivers could be suspended from the app for excess cancellations, as happened in Johnson's case, the tribunal did not consider that sanction to be a significant measure of control when weighed against everything else.

TUK had a vested interest in protecting the reputation of its brand.

Cancellations were detrimental to the overall customer experience and discouraging these spoke more to commercial expediency than control.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has upheld that decision. It held that the tribunal's conclusions were soundly and thoughtfully reasoned and should not be overturned.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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