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Uber Decision

Background

As previously discussed in our article ‘Tribunal considers employment status of Uber drivers’, the Uber drivers argued that they were workers for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996 because Uber has a significant degree of control over their work. For example, there are set routes, use of driver ratings, deductions from fares for bad reviews and penalties for not picking up customers. There is also a requirement for the drivers to provide a minimum number of hours’ service and strict insurance requirements.

Decision

The Central Employment Tribunal agreed with the arguments of the claimants and found the drivers to be ‘workers’.

The decision means that the drivers will be entitled to a number of employment rights including:

  • The right to paid annual leave;
  • The right to be paid the National Minimum Wage/ National Living Wage; and
  • protection under the working time regulations i.e. a maximum 48-hour week and rest breaks.

The Tribunal were critical of Uber’s argument they acted as an ‘introducer’ and that Uber was actually a network of businesses linked by a common technology platform. The reality was the drivers worked for, not with, Uber.

Some of the reasons given by the Tribunal for their decision were that Uber subjected the drivers to interviews, Uber controlled the route and information that the drivers were given, it also set the fares and could reprimand the drivers if they diverted from a particular route. The Tribunal also found that drivers could be subjected to disciplinary-like sanctions if they fell below a certain rating. All of these factors supported the argument that the drivers were in fact workers (but not employees).

Comment

Although this is only a first instance decision and therefore non-binding, it is likely that it will lead to more companies facing claims of ‘worker status’ from so-called ‘contractors’. The Tribunal has been clear in this case that just because an individual is labelled ‘self-employed’ does not mean they are, the Tribunal will look at the reality of the situation. Businesses should review any arrangements they have with contractors and ensure that contractual documentation is up to date and accurately reflects the working relationship.

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