Ongoing legal cases could impact employers’ pay and benefits strategies


A number of developments in employment-related legal cases took place over the summer, the results of which could have a potentially significant impact on employers’ benefits strategies.

Uber faces test cases in the UK over driver status

Two test cases against taxi-hailing app Uber have been brought to the Central London Employment Tribunal, in a bid to determine whether drivers should be classified as workers or as self-employed independent contractors.

The six-day hearing started on 20 July 2016, with a decision expected to be reached in October. If determined as workers, drivers would be entitled to workers’ rights such as holiday pay and the national minimum wage.

Leigh Day, the law firm representing the drivers, also claimed that Uber is acting unlawfully by deducting sums from the drivers’ pay without informing them in advance.

This is the first time the organisation has faced legal action in the UK. The test cases will have implications for a further 17 claims brought against Uber.

Asda equal-pay case proceeds to Employment Tribunal

An equal pay claim against supermarket chain Asda proceeded to the Manchester Employment Tribunal on 20 June 2016.

More than 7,000 former and current Asda employees brought the case against the organisation, arguing that historical discrimination has occurred and has not been rectified.

The claimants, who are mainly female retail store-based workers, allege that they are paid less for comparable work than their counterparts based in the organisation’s warehouses, who are mostly male. Asda disputes the claims.

The case proceeded to the Employment Tribunal after the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal launched by Asda, which argued that the claims should be pursued at the High Court.

The outcome of the seven-day hearing at the Manchester Employment Tribunal had not been released at the time of publication.

British Gas holiday pay case heard in Court of Appeal

The case of British Gas Trading v Lock was heard in the Court of Appeal on 11 July.

Lock, a sales consultant for British Gas, was paid a basic salary, as well as results-based commission. He argued that his holiday pay was calculated according to his basic salary and did not take commission into account. He issued a claim for unlawful deduction of wages in relation to under payment of holiday pay.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) and Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held that commission payments should be included in holiday pay calculations. The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld this, dismissing an appeal brought by British Gas.

The Court of Appeal’s judgement on the latest appeal is pending.

Cycle couriers demand workers’ rights

Four cycle couriers, supported by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), are bringing cases against Addison Lee, CitySprint, eCourier and Excel. The couriers are seeking to establish their status as workers rather than independent contractors. This means the couriers would be entitled to holiday pay among other rights.

The first of these cases is due to be heard at the London Central Employment Tribunal in November 2016.