With another company being defeated at an employment tribunal, contractors have received a warning, if any was needed, that they need to pay close attention to their working practices in order to avoid IR35 risk.

The case in question was Gascoigne vs Addison Lee Ltd. Chris Gascoigne had been employed by Addison Lee Ltd as an “independent contractor”; however, Judge Joanna Wade ruled against the company, saying that Gascoigne was in fact a worker for the private hire company. This was despite the wording of Gascoigne’s contract.

This is just the latest in a string of cases in which workers in the so-called gig economy have successfully taken their employers to an employment tribunal and won their claim for employment rights.

The same employment laws apply to IR35, so contractors should be aware that a contract alone is not a guarantee that they will not be caught by the IR35 rules. If contractors are not careful in ensuring that their working practices stay outside IR35, they could face a tax bill for thousands of pounds.

Gascoigne’s contract stated that there was no mutual obligation between the worker and employer, but the court disagreed. It found that if a job was available, both sides expected the worker to do that job, and a job could only be refused under exceptional circumstances. The full extent of control was rarely tested as workers were afraid of refusing work in case they were then blacklisted. However, the court considered that there was a significant amount of control and supervision, and in addition, Gascoigne was required to do the work himself with no substitution being allowed.