Two Uber drivers have taken the company to an employment
tribunal arguing that the company should officially recognise them
as workers and not, as Uber classifies them, self-employed
individuals. Specifically, the drivers claim that Uber should
guarantee they receive pay in line with the national minimum wage,
with earnings allegedly reaching as low as £5.03 per hour in
some months. The drivers also complain the company does not ensure
they receive paid holiday which as workers, they are entitled to.
The taxi hire service is potentially facing at least a further 17
claims from drivers who also want the company to recognise them as
workers. Therefore, the result of these test cases will be
Another company in the spotlight for similar issues is
Deliveroo. The company sends cyclists to restaurants to pick up
customer orders and deliver the food to their homes.
Deliveroo's workers are self-employed, earning around £7
an hour, with an extra fee per delivery. However, the workers
provide their own transport and are responsible for their own costs
(for example, national insurance).
Unlike Uber, the Deliveroo contracts state the self-employed
workers cannot engage in litigation about their employment status.
The terms expressly state that, "...neither you nor anyone
acting on your behalf will present any claim in the employment
tribunal or any civil court in which it is contended that you are
either an employee or worker". However, if challenged, it is
likely that this clause will be unenforceable as it tries to
restrict the individuals' access to established employment
rights without commercial justification.
While workers have less extensive employment protection than
employees, they continue to benefit from certain basic rights. It
is these rights the Uber and Deliveroo self-employed workers
believe that they are entitled to. Examples include: the national
minimum wage, paid annual leave, protection against unlawful
deduction of wages, rest breaks and a maximum working week. With
the result of the Uber cases not due for some weeks yet, many
self-employed workers, and companies alike, wait in anticipation
for the judgments.
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