Metroline Travel wins reconsideration of drivers’ claims

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The Employment Appeals Tribunal has directed a London Employment Tribunal to reconsider its decision in March 2019 which upheld claims against Metroline Travel by five bus drivers that they were entitled to meal relief payments.

The drivers, Sean D’Auvergne, Tariq Khan, Kingsly Chime, Kerwyn Dyte and Peter Coward were originally employed by Arriva North London. They were entitled to meal relief payments if they had to take meal breaks away from a recognised relief facility.

Until around mid-2010, Arriva paid meal relief payment to drivers who took their meal breaks at Hampstead Heath, as that facility was not a recognised relief facility.

The bus route concerned was transferred to Metroline in 2015, and the drivers’ contracts of employment also transferred.

Metroline had an agreement with the appropriate union recognising the Hampstead Heath facility. It therefore refused to pay the drivers the meal relief payments.

The Employment Tribunal held that the drivers had a contractual entitlement to the meal relief payment when taking their breaks at Hampstead Heath, as that facility was not a recognised facility with the meaning of their contracts of employment (as evidenced by the payments made prior to mid-2010).

There was nothing to indicate that the terms and conditions had been changed, and therefore the drivers retained their contractual entitlement.

Mr Justice Lewis upheld Metroline’s appeal against that decision and directed that the Employment Tribunal reconsider the matter. He said that the critical question for the Tribunal was how a relief facility came to be ‘recognised’ under the terms of the contract of employment.

The Tribunal had not addressed the question of whether (if the process for recognition was included in a collective agreement) those provisions were incorporated into the contract of employment of the individual drivers.

The fundamental problem with the decision of the Employment Tribunal was that there was no clear finding as to what the terms of the contract between Arriva and the drivers had been.

In particular, the Employment Tribunal did not address the means by which, under the contract, a facility became a recognised relief facility.

The Tribunal had failed to identify what the relevant terms of the contract were and to determine whether or not any recognition of the Hampstead Heath facility involved the implementation or working out of those terms.