A leading taxi app with over 12,500 drivers on its books is facing legal action, with many of its self-employed drivers set to challenge their employment status in a bid to be awarded employment rights.
Veezu says it is the UK’s fastest-growing taxi and private hire technology platform which, in 2022, helped passengers complete an average of one ride every two seconds.
It currently classes its 12,500 drivers as ‘self-employed’, but law firm, Leigh Day, is of the view they should be classed as ‘workers’ and, in turn, receive basic employment rights, such as holiday pay, minimum wage and pension contributions. This will be contested at an employment tribunal.
In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile employment tribunals where gig economy workers have looked to claim rights from their engager. Most notably, in 2021, the Supreme Court found in favour of Uber drivers, agreeing that they were not self-employed, but in fact workers.
According to Leigh Day, Veezu controls the working relationship in a manner reflective of ‘worker’ status. This includes fixing the job rate that drivers receive to penalising drivers for declining jobs.
If successful at the employment tribunal and drivers have their employment status changed, the law firm has said drivers “may be entitled to thousands of pounds in compensation”.
Seb Maley, CEO of employment status expert, Qdos, commented: “This is becoming an all too familiar story. Mass confusion over employment status in the gig economy has seen tens of thousands of self-employed workers take legal action and request rights. We’ve seen it with Uber and there have been many other instances. So who’s to say Veezu drivers won’t win their battle too?
“Leigh Day has said drivers could win thousands in compensation. With 12,500 drivers on its books, the cost of engaging self-employed workers under the wrong employment status could be staggering for Veezu.
“The root cause of this case and many others like it is ambiguity over employment status. Given there at now 7.25m gig workers in the UK and with one in six adults working a gig job once a week, it’s crucial that businesses are making well-informed and accurate decisions regarding employment status. As you can see, failure to do so can result in huge problems.”