Many of you will be familiar with Uber, the hugely successful
app which allows smartphone users to hail a driver using mobile
location software. Millions of users have embraced the technology
for the convenience it provides, satisfying an ever increasing
demand for a quick and hassle-free way of arranging travel.
Last Friday afternoon (28 October 2016), an employment tribunal
ruled that two Uber drivers in question are 'workers' as
opposed to self-employed contractors.
The case was brought by the GMB trade union following claims
that Uber disregarded the basic employment rights that should be
afforded to its drivers. The tribunal heard from the two Uber
drivers, whose case was that Uber failed to ensure its drivers were
provided with the national minimum wage and the minimum amount of
Uber has always stood by its position that its drivers are
self-employed contractors, as opposed to 'employees' or
'workers'. The tribunal's ruling that the drivers are
workers means that certain employment related rights are triggered,
including the national minimum wage, rest breaks and a minimum
amount of paid holiday.
Needless to say, the decision is unwelcome news for Uber and
others operating in the 'gig economy'. Uber now faces
having to fund these benefits for its drivers. The decision is also
likely to be displeasing for users of Uber, who may well see
prices rising (and a less stable service) as a result of the
additional funding that is required.
Whilst some critics have supported the decision, especially with
regard to the national minimum wage, it is worth noting the
calculation of their hourly rate fluctuates and largely depends on
how long the drivers stay logged in to the app and how many jobs
they accept/cancel on a particular day.
The Regional General Manager of Uber in the UK confirmed that
Uber will appeal the tribunal's decision, stating, "Tens
of thousands of people in London drive with Uber precisely because
they want to be self-employed and their own boss ... The
overwhelming majority of drivers who use the Uber app want to keep
the freedom and flexibility of being able to drive when and where
they want". Indeed, Uber has supported flexible working and
does not require its drivers to log in for a minimum number of
hours or require them to work solely for Uber.
The ruling of the hearing will only affect the drivers named in
the case, however the challenge to Uber's business model is
likely to cast a shadow of uncertainty on drivers and users alike,
for as long as what is widely thought to be a drawn out appeals
process takes to run its course. In the meantime, we await with
anticipation the outcome of what we think will be the first (but
not the last) appeal in this case.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Everyone has sympathy for employees who are genuinely unwell. When advising employers about employees suffering from stress, various medical conditions and resultant absence, it is these words that come up again and again.
In our article published in HR Zone, we consider the introduction of the new rules on regulatory references which come into force on 7 March 2017 and the practical steps that employers must take to comply...
Most of us know the difference between being employed and being self-employed (or at least we think we do). And in everyday laymen's terms, the difference is relatively straightforward and obvious – if you are employed, you work for someone else and, if you are self-employed, you ‘work for yourself'.
This coming year looks to be another busy one with more significant employment law changes coming into force and we have highlighted some of the key changes, which range from the introduction of gender pay...
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).