A tribunal hearing between three taxi drivers and cab company Addison Lee is likely to fuel further calls for clarity in the laws defining employment status.
The Central London Employment Tribunal has opened a case brought by three drivers who were dismissed after joining a protest against the company.
Addison Lee had attempted to delay the start of the tribunal until November, by which point other similar cases would have been heard, but the tribunal set a date for 4 July.
Gary Pearce, regional officer at union GMB, of which the drivers are members, said: ‘Everything points to the drivers being employees and no doubt will result in yet another decision exposing bogus self-employment practices by employers in the private hire industry.’
The drivers’ contracts were terminated hours after a GMB-organised protest in central London in May last year. Members were protesting against an increase in commission levels from Addison Lee and changes to terms and conditions for drivers.
Pearce added: ‘Any attempt to classify the drivers as self-employed will simply not wash with the employment tribunal. GMB will not allow Addison Lee to go unpunished for dismissing drivers whose only crime was to legitimately bring their plight to the attention of the public and the parent company of Addison Lee, The Carlyle Group.’
Earlier this year, the Law Society said people working in sectors including private hire taxi companies, known as the 'gig economy', should be considered to have 'employed' status.
The Society was responding to a call for evidence by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee on how employment rights apply within a changing work environment.
GMB had previously raised concerns with Addison Lee including increased commission, fixed rate insurance and reduced fares.
An Addison Lee spokesperson said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.