Workers for Uber have been placed in the driving seat following today’s Employment Appeal Tribunal decision. This upheld a previous tribunal ruling that Uber drivers were “workers” within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
The ‘Gig Economy’
The Uber business model is perhaps the best known in what is referred to as the “gig economy” where people work via apps, for companies like Uber and Deliveroo, to provide a service to clients. These companies had argued that the people providing the service were independent, essentially self-employed, and not an employee. This means they would not benefit from the rights and protections that are afforded to “workers” or “employees.”
The tribunal decision had stated that drivers were “workers” when they were in the territory in which they were authorised to drive, had the Uber app turned on and were ready and willing to accept fares. The tribunal also said that Uber exerted a level of control over workers. This included drivers being locked out of the app if they did not accept or complete a certain number of fares, which the tribunal said was akin to taking disciplinary action against the drivers. This, they said, all indicated a worker relationship with the company.
This ruling means the drivers will benefit from workers rights such as, receiving the national minimum wage, paid annual leave, a maximum 48 hour week and rest breaks. The classification as a ‘worker’ rather than ‘employee’ means they will not have the full entitlement of rights that employees benefit from. These include, the ability to claim unfair dismissal, the right to a statutory redundancy payment and the protection of TUPE legislation if Uber were to sell its business.
A Dead End for Uber?
While this ruling is a shot across the front bumper of Uber, it may not be the end of the road for them. It is likely they will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court, who are set to hear another ‘gig economy’ case involving Pimlico Plumbers.
If you are unsure about the status of workers, or the rights they are entitled to, then contact the Blackadders’ employment team.