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Workers' rights during Coronavirus: how the pandemic has impacted Addison Lee drivers

Over the last eight months, Coronavirus has had a huge impact on all of our lives. For many who are categorised as self-employed contractors the effects have been felt just that bit deeper. Here, solicitor Liana Wood discusses what the pandemic has meant for Addison Lee drivers.

Posted on 10 November 2020

Over the last eight months, Coronavirus has had a huge impact on all of our lives. For many who are categorised as self-employed contractors the effects have been felt just that bit deeper. Here, solicitor Liana Wood discusses what the pandemic has meant for Addison Lee drivers.

While government guidance about the precautions we should be taking during the pandemic has not always been clear for any of us, it is perhaps even more difficult for Addison Lee drivers to know what to do to ‘stay safe’. 
 
Drivers do not have the luxury of working from home and, because those working for Addison Lee are categorised as self-employed contractors, they have no security of income and are individually responsible for their own health and safety.
 
Government support for the self-employed only became available in June, four months after lockdown restrictions came into force. 
 
Without state support, it is unsurprising that some drivers felt they had no choice but to continue working when there was work available, even if this went against Public Health England advice.
 
They were faced with an impossible choice: to protect their health and risk losing their livelihood or to continue to work potentially to the detriment of their wellbeing.
 
To make matters worse, the reality is, even if drivers wanted to continue working, many had no choice but to stop, or reduce their hours, because lockdown restrictions meant there was less work available.
 
Even when government help became available, there has been a stark difference in the support available to those who are self-employed compared to employees. 
 
For example, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”) does not cover people who became self-employed after April 2019 and the scheme does not cover ongoing overheads, such as leasing a vehicle and paying for fuel.  
 
And it doesn’t look like the situation is going to get much better any time soon. 
 
Now that the country has gone into a second lockdown, many drivers will be experiencing sleepless nights worrying about their future.
 
While recognising their workers’ rights would not solve all these problems, it would provide security of the national minimum wage and holiday pay as well as the right to raise concerns about matters such as health and safety, without fear of being punished.  
 
The pandemic has highlighted why the Addison Lee drivers’ claim is so important. Now, more than ever, we have seen how difficult it can be for gig economy workers.  
 
To be acknowledged as workers and receive protection that this status affords is not a big ask, and yet Addison Lee continues to drag its heels. 
 
That’s why we continue to work to ensure Addison Lee drivers get the compensation they deserve. 
 
If you are an Addison Lee driver, you can register your interest in joining the claim here and a member of the team will get back to you.

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Liana Wood
Modern Slavery

Liana Wood

Liana Wood is an associate solicitor in the employment department.