The Employment Tribunal has ruled that two Uber drivers are
"workers" within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act
The Tribunal looked closely at the arrangement between Uber and
its drivers, and, despite the flexible nature of the arrangement,
was satisfied that the control held by Uber was such that these
drivers were "workers" and not self-employed, under UK
This decision was arrived at despite clear efforts by those who
drafted the agreements between Uber and its drivers to preclude the
formation of any employment relationship. The contract itself
described the drivers as "self-employed." However, the
Tribunal looked beyond the strict wording of the contracts between
the drivers and Uber and considered the true arrangement between
the parties to establish that an employment relationship did exist.
The decision can be read in full.
This decision has significant consequences for both driver and
Uber alike as certain significant employment rights attach to
"workers". Workers are entitled, for example, to:-
the National Minimum Wage (and the National Living Wage)
5.6 weeks' paid annual leave each year
A maximum 48 hour average working week and rest breaks
protections under the whistleblowing legislation
"Workers" are not however entitled to certain rights
which are preserved for "employees", such as the ability
to claim unfair dismissal, statutory redundancy payments, and the
protection of TUPE.
This decision comes after the Commons Select Committee on
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced an inquiry into
the "future world of work and rights of workers". The
inquiry will focus on the changing nature of work and the status
and rights of agency workers, the self-employed and those working
in the 'gig economy'. There is no doubt that this decision,
if upheld, will have implications for this so-called 'gig
economy' and those involved should consider carefully whether
their arrangements in practice are consistent with their
arrangements in writing.
The decision will be welcomed by the some 400,000 Uber drivers
throughout the UK, but they shouldn't stop the meter running
just yet. It is almost certain that this decision will be appealed,
and it is perhaps only a matter of time before taxis to the Supreme
Court are ordered.
In the meantime, this decision stresses the importance of
getting 'employee status' right and ensuring that the
correct employment rights are attached to the individuals in
question. Employment status is a fact sensitive area of the law,
and this decision highlights that the Tribunal will often look
beyond the wording of any contract between the parties to establish
the true agreement and relationship involved.
The material contained in this article is of the nature of
general comment only and does not give advice on any particular
matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information
in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice
upon their own particular circumstances.
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