On October 28, the Central London Employment Tribunal held that Uber drivers are not self-employed.
As a result, the drivers are entitled to certain
“worker” benefits, including paid holidays and a
minimum wage. Under the law in England and Wales,
“workers” occupy a middle ground between employees and
the self-employed, with employees entitled to additional benefits
such as severance in a reduction-in-force also known as redundancy
pay (Scotland’s system differs). Workers are entitled to
fewer benefits than employees, but have certain minimum
protections, unlike the self-employed.
In disputing the drivers’ claims, Uber insisted it is a
technology company providing a service (a mobile telephone
application) that simply provides a way for self-employed drivers
to connect with potential paying customers. In support of its
argument, Uber claimed the self-employed drivers are able to work
where, when, and how often they choose. The Tribunal rather forcefully rejected this argument,
holding “the notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000
small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to
our minds faintly ridiculous ... Drivers do not and cannot
negotiate with passengers … They are offered and accept
trips strictly on Uber’s terms.”
The ruling will potentially affect over 30,000 drivers in
England and Wales, and according to the law firm that represented
the drivers, it is a groundbreaking decision. They believe it has
the potential to affect not only Uber drivers but thousands of
self-employed workers around the country taking part in the
“gig economy.” Uber stated that it plans to appeal the
decision, and for now, will not change any of its business
The ruling highlights ongoing concerns in the UK and elsewhere
about the growing trend of a “self-employed” workforce.
In response to such concerns, the UK government announced it will
undertake a six-month review of current “working
practices,” and a new division – the employment status
and intermediaries team – has been set up to investigate the
status of alleged self-employed workers. Observers predict that
other companies within the UK who rely on largely on the labor of
self-employed workers will come under greater scrutiny in the
months to come as the number of self-employed continues to
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