Non-profit transport service Dial A Ride, the trading name of Blackburn and Darwen Community Transport, has been ordered to compensate a former driver in a dispute concerning unfair dismissal, employment status and holiday pay.
The case concerned claimant A Russell, who worked as a driver from 2018, providing transport for vulnerable adults and children, including regular work doing the school run for children with special educational needs.
When he started working for the business, there was no formal appointment process, written contract or other employment documentation. Russell reported that he was not told he would not be an employee, or be engaged on a zero-hours basis.
In January 2019, Russell took a month off in order to visit relatives in the USA and Canada, as well as other holidays during what would have been school weeks. The tribunal found that he had to seek permission before taking this time off.
In March 2022, when he raised a grievance regarding holiday pay that had not been provided since joining the business in 2018, this was allegedly ignored. In April 2022, Russell contacted the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), but later that month he was dismissed.
Dial A Ride claimed that this dismissal was due to issues with Russell’s behaviour, including acting inappropriately towards coworkers, particularly women. The tribunal questioned this, and added that if Russell was not an employee, the organisation could simply have ceased offering him more work when alleged behavioural issues arose.
The tribunal found that Russell was classified as a worker under the Working Time Regulations 1998 and was, therefore, entitled to holiday pay; for the purposes of unfair dismissal, the tribunal found that he could be classified as an employee and, therefore, was entitled to make a claim.
The total amount payable to Russell was agreed at £12,489.86, comprising unfair dismissal compensation of £8,465.06, and £4,024.80 relating to the holiday pay claim.
Employment judge McDonald said in the ruling: “I have found that there was in this case no potentially fair reason for dismissal. I did not accept that the claimant had been guilty of behaviour which could amount to misconduct. He had sought to assert his right to holiday pay and been dismissed as a result.”
Dial A Ride was contacted for comment prior to publication.