The Uber drivers decision is out

Category: Employment

The gig economy has thrown up some interesting quirks due to its rapid evolution. This means that fitting them into the existing employment law structures certainly isn’t straight forward. Uber has now found this out.

Uber has always maintained that its drivers are self employed. The Employment Tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, however, found that the drivers are workers.

This had a significant implication for Uber given that, in 2016, there were about 30,000 Uber drivers operating in London and 40,000 in the UK as a
whole. If the Judgments of these Courts were correct, the drivers would be entitled to National Minimum Wage. And that’s for all of the time that they were logged onto the Uber App. They would also be entitled to rights such as 5.6 weeks’ per year holiday. Understandably, therefore, Uber took their case to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately for Uber, the Supreme Court agreed with the decisions made by the lower Courts.

The Supreme Court’s Decision on Uber drivers

In reaching its decision that the Uber drivers were workers, the Supreme Court emphasised the following key factual findings of the Employment Tribunal:

  • The remuneration paid to drivers for the work done was fixed by Uber. The drivers had no say in it;
  • The contractual terms under which the drivers performed their services were dictated by Uber;
  • Whilst the drivers had the freedom to choose when and where to work, once the driver had logged on to the Uber App, a driver’s choice about whether to accept a passenger was constrained by Uber;
  • Uber had significant control over the way in which the driver delivered their services. This ncluded vetting the type of cars that were used and owning and controlling the technology that the drivers accessed; and
  • Uber restricted the communication between the passenger and the driver to the very minimum necessary.
uber drivers

A useful checklist

These bullet points act as a very useful checklist in terms of assisting parties in determining whether or not there is a genuine commercial self-employment relationship or whether the control exercised by the work provider is such that, despite what any contractual documentation might say, a worker relationship has been formed.

The impact of this Judgment is likely to be felt across the gig economy. It’s therefore likely that we will see a sharp increase in claims from other “self-employed” individuals in the future. You might find that the delivery costs for your lock down pizza begins to increase as a result.

What now?

Do you need advice on how the Uber driver’s decision could affect your workplace? Then please get in touch with our Employment team. We’re there to help you, to provide you with pragmatic, sensible solutions. You can reach the Employment team by calling 01752 827081 or emailing them at [email protected]. You can also ask us to call you back by filling in our Contact Form.

Ian Grimshaw is the Head of the Employment team.

Request a callback from Nash & Co Solicitors