Supreme Court rules Uber drivers should be classified as workers

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The UK Supreme Court has today (19th February 2021) ruled that leading taxi app, Uber, must classify its drivers as ‘workers’, rather than self-employed.

This groundbreaking decision means that Uber drivers will now be entitled to more employment rights than they are currently, including minimum wage and holiday pay.

How it started: Uber BV v Aslam and Others

In 2016, two Uber drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, argued that, despite being employed by Uber, they didn’t have basic workers’ rights. During the employment tribunal, the drivers stated that, as their working actions were controlled by the taxi app, they should be entitled to holiday pay and minimum wage.

There were also claims that Uber had acted unlawfully by deducting sums from drivers’ pay, often without informing them, including when customers had made complaints.

What did Uber say?

Uber denied that its drivers should be entitled to basic workers’ rights, arguing that it is a technology company (app) and that the drivers work for themselves, and not Uber itself, meaning that they should be classified as self-employed.

Aslam’s legal representatives argued that, as Uber holds significant control over its drivers in order to provide a public taxi service, it should acknowledge its responsibilities towards their drivers as workers.

What employment rights will Uber drivers now be entitled to?

Uber drivers are now classified as workers, rather than self-employed, however, this doesn’t automatically give drivers ‘employee’ rights.

As workers, Uber drivers will be given a lot more rights than they currently had, such as National Minimum Wage, the statutory minimum level of paid holiday, rest breaks, and protection against unlawful discrimination and whistleblowing.

What does this ruling mean for Uber?

Today’s ruling could leave Uber facing a large compensation bill. The GMB union has said it will consult with Uber drivers over a forthcoming compensation claim at the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

This judgement will also likely have wider consequences for the gig economy, and we anticipate companies using similar business models, such as Deliveroo, will feel the ramifications of this ruling.

Further information

For advice on workers’ rights, self-employment, contracts or any other employment matter, call our specialist employment solicitors on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.

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