Veezu, the UK’s largest private hire operator, is the latest company to be targeted with legal action over the employment status of its drivers.
A case is being brought by law firm Leigh Day on behalf of some Veezu drivers, in a bid to gain “worker” status for the drivers. Veezu employs 12,500 “driver partners, arguing they are self-employed contractors.
Leigh Day said drivers could win thousands in compensation, which could mean Veezu is facing a large bill. The claim is open to all drivers working for Veezu in the past 10 weeks, but any compensation will only be given to drivers who join the claim.
Newport-based Veezu, which operates a number of regional hubs across England and Wales, has argued that its drivers are not employed in the same way as Uber drivers.
In a statement, the company said: “We are confident that our position on the status of the driver partners operating via Veezu is lawful.” It is not known how many of the 12,500 Veezu drivers want worker status or how many are happy with the current situation.
The case will be the first major test of the recent Sefton ruling, which ruled that a passenger’s contract is with the operator, not the driver. The case was brought by Uber and the ACDU union, and followed an earlier similar decision in London.
Veezu, along with Merseyside operator Delta Taxis, argued that the contract was with the driver, and the operator was merely a platform designed to bring customer and driver together, an argument that was firmly rejected by the judge.
Now Veezu could be forced to offer “worker” status to all its 12,500 drivers if the court rules in Leigh Day’s favour. Leigh Day argues that the drivers are “workers” and should receive basic employment rights such as holiday pay, minimum wage and pension contributions.
In 2021, the Supreme Court found in favour of Uber drivers, agreeing that they were workers, not self-employed. Leigh Day claims that Veezu controls the working relationship in a manner reflective of “worker” status. This includes fixing the job rate that drivers receive and penalising drivers for declining jobs.