The Gary Jacobs Blog April 2018

As I write this column the LHPCA are waiting to hear the results of their challenge TFL in the high court regarding the crippling and divisive new operator fees. I believe the results will be in as Pro Driver goes to press. I wish all involved every luck in their endeavours, let’s hope we can neutralise at least one attack on our beloved trade.

Talking of attacks, all that is new and improved in the world of tribunals. And remember I am neither on the side of the operator or the driver, I am on the side of what is best for the Private Hire and Chauffeur profession so that the driver can work in the way that he wants and the both they and the company owner can move forward together.  Rather than seeking to win or lose we should push legislators to create an environment within our trade that allows a win/win, without political agenda. So, employed or self-employed should be self-determined within the strict guidelines of fair working practice, to all. In reality it is about the government collecting taxes through National Insurance, that’s it.

So, what have the tribunals that are now coming in and being finished and defended, taught me.

  • There are plenty of tribunal cases that support the relationship between a driver and an operator regardless of the introduction of technology, which seems to have confused and obsessed some lawyers on the high-profile ones i.e. Aslam/Farrer v Uber and GMB v Addison Lee. Things really change when it is a smaller traditional PH operator.
  • Terms are important but do not abuse the court’s intelligence. Although It does help to have a credible witness, if you use a word in the wrong place such as employee in a casual email or by office staff, it seems that the judge will overall still look for context. As I always say terms and the written word must still be validated by working practice. It seems that just denying that you were ever self-employed, whilst filling in a tax return and claiming expenses, may get the judge a little annoyed!
  • Don’t rely on regulatory regimes and terminology to affect a case, often technology and central government law can’t outrank, update or neutralise local regulatory law in practice.
  • The right to work elsewhere, anywhere, by having a PH license is a biggish deal in determining control of an operator.
  • Despatch APPS need to look at their wording a bit better. What is ‘turning off’’, ‘admin downtime’, ‘personal penalty’, and who asked or agreed to them. Also, I suspect that many of the job refusal/driver substitution downtimes are misunderstood by both parties. In truth, most of this terminology is not set by the operator, maybe it should be.

To be fair to everyone involved the status enquiries are a changing landscape and the courts are seeking to understand and define. I’m sure that these cases will unfortunately continue but let’s hope that common sense will prevail. I have great hope that it might.

Finally, the new tax year is here for you tax return people. Go see your accountant now, don’t wait until you are in the naughty queue at the back of the office in January. The sooner we get your books and records, the more time we can spend making sure you are claiming for all that you are entitled to. There is a motivation, if ever I heard one…

Drive Safe,
Gary