01 Nov 2016
Today, an Employment Tribunal has made the landmark decision that the drivers of taxi giant Uber are to be classed as workers and not self-employed. The test case, brought forward by James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, forms one of the first proper legal reviews of job status in this part of the gig economy, and has the potential to form a new paradigm.
BackgroundTwo drivers brought a claim against the renowned company, claiming that they had been denied basic rights, including the payment of the National Minimum Wage, holiday and sick pay. Kevin Gibson, Specialist HR Consultant at Croner, states: “This is a seminal case for Uber and other organisations who engage individuals on similar terms, therefore we expect a torrent of claims from other industries - the roads of the UK are awash with courier and food delivery firms operating similarly practices to the Uber model.“
What the ruling meansUnder this ruling, Uber will have to adhere to paying and providing the workers’ statutory rights, including, but not restricted to: 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave annually; a maximum 48 hour average working week; payment satisfying the National Minimum Wage, and more. However, the Employment Tribunal did not find these Claimants were ‘employees’ for Uber, therefore they will not meet that requirement to make certain claims such as unfair dismissal, or protection under the TUPE Regulations. Amanda Beattie, Litigation Manager at Croner adds: “There is a plethora of case law regarding employment status; however the fundamental factor is that the Employment Tribunal will look at the agreement between the parties and the circumstances to assess whether status of the individual is consistent with being an employee, worker or self-employed contractor. Effectively they will look at the irreducible minimum of obligations; employment tends to need mutual obligations, whereas the worker definition tends to concentrate on the element of personal service by the individual.” Uber had tried to argue that all of their 40,000 drivers were self-employed, but the tribunal has ultimately ruled in the claimant’s favour. Uber has said that it will appeal the decision.
Victory for driversThe GMB union described the ruling concerning the ride-hailing app as a "monumental victory" for the drivers.
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