Worker Status

Johnson v Transopco UK Ltd

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) considered again facts whereby a worker in the gig economy claimed he was a “worker” rather than self-employed thereby gaining himself various employment rights.  Readers of this bulletin will be aware that over the last few years, case law has gradually moved pro-worker, with several findings in which individual workers in the gig economy have been able to show that they were sometimes workers or even employees, rather than self-employed, thereby gaining employment status.

In this case, however, the EAT upheld an Employment Tribunal’s decision that a taxi driver working through an App (the My Taxi App) was not a worker of the App operator, and was genuinely self-employed.


Mr. Johnson worked full-time on his own account as a black cab driver.  Through the My Taxi App, he earned a total of £4,500 after commission but in a similar period, he earned £30,500 as a self-employed driver through other sources.   Mr. Johnson brought an Employment Tribunal complaint arguing that his work through the App he should have been defined as a worker and therefore entitled to various rights including accrued holiday, protection from discrimination, national minimum wage, etc.   

The original Tribunal found that personal service existed between Mr. Johnson and the App’s operators, but rather than finding that Mr. Johnson was a worker of the company that owned the App, the company was a “client or customer” of Mr. Johnson’s taxi driving business and so fell within an exclusion under section 230(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996.  

On the facts here, there were a number of matters which led them to conclude that he was not a worker, including:-

  1. The relative lack of income through the App compared to his self-employed work;
  2. That the driver could provide his services as infrequently or as often as he wanted;
  3. That he could control the timing of those services;
  4. He was not subject to enough control by the operator in the way in which his services were undertaken.

The Tribunal’s conclusions were challenged by Mr. Johnson but the EAT found that the Tribunal’s conclusions were soundly and thoughtfully reasoned.


Employers have been increasingly concerned over the last few years as various cases have found people viewed as “self-employed” to in fact be workers and entitled to various rights.  This case however reminds us that a Tribunal will always look at the facts of any individual relationship and it’s by no means certain that workers in the gig economy and those providing services through Apps will always be workers.