September 21, 2017 / 2:46 PM / a year ago

Addison Lee seeks appeal of court ruling over courier rights

LONDON (Reuters) - Premium car service Addison Lee said on Thursday it had applied to appeal a court decision that ruled a courier deserved workers’ rights such as holiday pay, in a bid to defend the flexible working lauded by employers but criticised by unions.

Like taxi app Uber [UBER.UL], Addison Lee operates in the so-called “gig economy”, where most people are self-employed and entitled to only basic protections. Unions and some lawmakers argue they should receive rights such as the minimum wage and holiday entitlement.

Addison Lee, best known for its fleet of professional cars, also has around 40 people operating as cycle couriers, among a total of 500 couriers, who transport luxury goods and time-sensitive documents such as contracts.

In July, trade union the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) went to court to argue that courier Christopher Gascoigne should be classified as a worker. A judge ruled in their favour in a decision handed down in August.

On Thursday, Addison Lee said it would seek to appeal.

“Addison Lee is appealing the decision as the verdict is inconsistent with the law and the evidence that clearly showed that Mr Gascoigne took full advantage of the flexible and fair relationship that we have with cycle couriers,” a spokesman said.

The IWGB’s Vice President Maggie Dewhurst said the union was confident of defeating any legal challenge from the firm.

“If the case goes to appeal we are certain that the court will once again rule against Addison Lee,” she said. “Flexible work is compatible with worker status and the employment rights it guarantees.”

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison

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