UBER Loses Appeal, Drivers Win Worker Rights


The Law Of…Granting Worker Status To Uber Drivers

Uber has lost an appeal against their drivers in which their drivers had been fighting for worker rights. Uber drivers are currently considered by their employer as “self-employed”. The self-employed do not have the same rights as those with the status of workers, such as sick leave or paid holiday. With the recent decision, Uber will have to revise this stance.

Joy Drummond, Employment Law Partner, explains the case, and just what it means for the future of Uber's drivers.

Uber Faces An Appeal

In 2016, a tribunal ruled that James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, who drive for Uber, were to be granted holiday pay, paid breaks and entitlement to the minimum wage. Uber appealed against this, claiming that its drivers were classified as self-employed, saying 80 percent of them prefered to keep it that way.

The Employment Tribunal decided that Uber drivers who switch on the app and collect passengers were working for Uber London Ltd as a fully-fledged "worker", as opposed to a self-employed contractor. As this was the case, the tribunal decided that these drivers should also be entitled to worker's rights.

The GMB union's legal director, Maria Ludkin, said: "Uber must now face up to its responsibilities and give its workers the rights to which they are entitled."

"GMB urges the company not to waste everyone's time and money dragging their lost cause to the Supreme Court."

The ruling has been called a "landmark victory" for worker's rights by the GMB union, specifically for those currently working in the gig economy.

What Is The Gig Economy?

The Gig Economy refers to the situation which people are considered self-employed find themselves in. People in the gig economy typically do not have full worker status, and have to work long hours in order to earn enough to cover the cost of living.

These self-employed contractors are typically not entitled to the national minimum wage, do not receive paid rest breaks and are not offered paid holiday entitlement. 

This appeal means that all of this will now have to change.

Employment law specialist Joy comments:

"Although the EAT's decision to deny Uber their appeal is good news, the company is unlikely to accept defeat, and that is exactly the problem. Also, other employers similarly wrongly categorising their workers as self-employed will no doubt try to find reasons to argue that their case is different"

"Parliament needs to take a clearer and stronger approach to this issue, and implement legislation which sets out the basic rights for people who are currently operating in uncertainty regarding whether they are workers, employees or self-employed. In the midst of uncertainty, we will continue to see cases taken to court and decisions recurrently appealed by both sides."

"The balance of power still weighs against workers who will continue to have to secure their rights through the courts. This is unsustainable and expensive for everyone.

"This case was only made possible because of the support of Unions, yet a huge proportion of people across the UK are not similarly represented.

"This decision is part of a growing number of cases that are rejecting the way companies are trying to categorise workers as being self-employed - denying them basic rights around working hours, holiday and notice"

"Currently, we have a huge number of supposedly self-employed people working dangerously long hours to make a basic living, and that is wholly unacceptable. By itself, this decision won't change that. It does, however, make it clear that you can't label someone self-employed just by writing it on a piece of paper, if reality is altogether different. Yet writing this sort of fiction has exactly been Uber's strategy. It is time for the Government to step in and end this madness."

Can Simpson Millar Help With Employment Status?

If you think you are entitled to worker status, or would simply like to know more about your current employment situation, contact one of our Employment Law specialists today for any legal advice. Get in touch either by using our Freephone number or our online enquiry form.

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