Uber drivers are found to be ‘workers’ in landmark ruling
The Employment Tribunal has this afternoon ruled that two Uber drivers are in fact ‘workers’ within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and not self-employed contractors.
As a worker you are entitled to certain rights including the right to receive the national minimum wage (and the national living wage), the right to 5.6 weeks holiday, protection under whistleblowing legislation and the right to a maximum 48 hour working week with paid rest breaks. Importantly, however, you do not have the right to bring an unfair dismissal claim or the right to receive a statutory redundancy payment as these rights are exclusive to employees.
This case started a year ago when the GMB trade union claimed that Uber failed to provide its drivers with the minimum wage or the minimum amount of paid holiday. Uber claimed the drivers were self-employed. Uber also argued that many of their drivers want to be self-employed and want the flexibility that comes with it. It will be interesting to see how many other drivers bring claims following this decision.
In reaching its decision, the tribunal referred to ‘the remarkable lengths to which Uber has gone in order to compel agreement with its (or perhaps we should say its lawyers’) description of itself and its analysis of the legal relationships.’ In particular the tribunal referred to the ‘resorting in [Uber’s] documentation to fictions, twisted language and even brand new terminology’ which ‘merits we think a degree of scepticism.’ This is a stark warning for businesses.
This ruling will be particularly important for businesses who have a number of temporary positions and who contract in short-term independent workers. However, at the current time, this ruling only directly affects the two drivers in the case.
Uber have already stated that they will be appealing this decision and therefore we may not receive a final determination for some time.