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Veezu to be taken to tribunal over drivers’ employment status

The cases could impact 12,500 drivers across the UK. -

Taxi and private-hire platform Veezu is being taken to employment tribunal by law firm Leigh Day to contest the employment status of its workers.

The 12,500 drivers who work for the Newport-headquartered firm are currently classed as self-employed.

Leigh Day, however, is arguing the drivers’ contracts are akin to full employment and so should be entitled to basic employment rights including a minimum wage and holiday pay.

Speaking to HR magazine Gabriel Morrison, senior associate solicitor at Leigh Day, said: “Rather than being genuinely independent of the company, we consider that the drivers are operating as part of Veezu’s business. In particular, Veezu recruit the drivers, fix their job fares, allocate them jobs and penalise them for declining jobs.”

Read more: Is the gig up for the gig economy? 

The firm is due to present claims on behalf of the drivers at employment tribunal, after that the first major hearing will be to determine if the drivers are workers or not.

“If the claims are ultimately successful, the drivers will be declared workers and will also claim compensation in the form of backpay covering the period of their work,” added Morrison.

The claim is open to all drivers working for Veezu and its partner taxi companies in the last 10 weeks.

Leigh Day’s Veezu claim follows the Supreme Court’s 2021 ruling that UK Uber drivers should be classed as workers rather than self-employed.

This prompted follow-up guidance from the government intended to help employers and employees understand the difference between different types of employment status.

Seb Maley, CEO of contractor insurance firm Qdos, said the case highlights how big an issue employment status is in the gig economy.

Maley told HR magazine: “These kinds of disputes can have disastrous financial implications for businesses that have engaged individuals under the wrong employment status.

“I doubt it’s a decision the drivers have taken lightly, though. In many cases, gig workers need greater protection, in the form of employment rights. Over the years, hand in hand with the growth of this sector, the number of employment tribunals like this has risen too.

“This case highlights the importance of making well-informed employment status decisions, which all parties agree on, from the word go.”