Black-cab driver who carried out work through Mytaxi app was not a worker 


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The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that a London black-cab driver who worked mainly on his own account, but was also engaged by a company which provided him with passengers through the Mytaxi app, was not a worker of the app-operator in Johnson v Transopco UK Ltd.

Mr Johnson, a self-employed London black-cab driver, was registered with Mytaxi, an app operated by Transopco UK Ltd (TUK). During one year he completed 282 trips via the app at a value of £4,560.48. During the same year he earned £30,472.45 as a self-employed driver. At first instance the tribunal held that the complaints he brought against TUK failed because it found that he was not TUK's worker. The tribunal found that Mr Johnson could provide his services as often as he wanted, could dictate the timing of those services and was not subject to control by TUK. It also took into account the small proportion of work done through the app.

The EAT upheld the tribunal's decision holding that the tribunal was entitled to analyse the split of time between the income earned as a self-employed cab driver and the income earned via the Mytaxi app when concluding that this was not a dependent work relationship. The tribunal was also entitled to take the view that the essence of Mr Johnson's business was picking up passengers and driving them to where they wanted to go, however they were obtained. Although Mr Johnson had an obligation of personal service, the tribunal had been correct to conclude that TUK was a client or customer of his taxi-driving business.

Take note: The decision in Johnson shows that an individual working via a digital platform will not automatically gain worker status (though in many instances they have been found to be workers). Here, where the claimant also worked as a self-employed black-cab driver the tribunal could look at the work carried out in both capacities and take the small proportion of work done through the app into account.

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