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Uber: Employed or self-employed?

Recent employment tribunal (and consequent appeal) brought by a number of Uber taxi drivers against the company has confirmed that they should now be classed as ‘workers’ as opposed to their previous self-employed status. The consequences of this decision are significant. Being classified as a worker confers vastly improved rights upon Uber’s workers, including holiday pay, sick pay and a guaranteed minimum wage.

Those who drive for Uber are able to decide when they work and they are required to undertake to provide the work personally for the company. However, this decision was made on the basis that these hallmarks establish an employment relationship. Uber drivers are also required to undertake a screening process of interviews and inductions before they are offered work.

Since this defeat, the app-based taxi firm have requested that they are able to bypass the Court of Appeal and leapfrog straight to the Supreme Court in an attempt to have the original decision overturned; a procedure which can be put in place for cases of particular legal significance.

The wider implications

Of course, this is likely to cause a plethora of similar cases being brought in front of our employment tribunals. There is the possibility of back-dated claims also being seen. With modern technology, we can see a number of companies offering employment in a similar way. Meaning, employers will be inviting workers to accept jobs at small notice, often via a smartphone app. Given the number of these companies in operation, many think that it is likely Uber will be able to leapfrog to the Supreme Court given the vast number of people who are undoubtedly going to be affected by any decision made. The ruling will have significant implications for around 40,000 Uber drivers, and undoubtedly those working in similar areas.

Uber’s responsibility

Essentially, Uber’s legal team are expected to argue that the original decision was based on a misunderstanding. This being a misunderstanding of Uber drivers’ interactions with passengers. In fact, Uber claims that the majority of their drivers prefer their self-employed status. Surprisingly, the two drivers who originally brought the suit, have since left the company.

Uber hope that they will be granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court as early as this February. Watch this space! However, if you are in a position whereby you feel you need to seek some legal advice in relation to your employment rights then please don’t hesitate to contact one of our specialist team who can offer you advice or workplace mediation whichever suits your needs. Get in touch via Workplace@174law.co.uk.