Uber loses its employment appeal tribunal hearing against the employment status of their drivers.
Uber were appealing the previous employment tribunal decision that their drivers were workers, rather than self-employed contractors. At the EAT, the company argued they acted as the driver’s agent by referring passengers to the driver through the app and receiving a payment for this, rather than being a “gig economy” employer.
The EAT has held that the tribunal was entitled to look beyond the contractual documents to find, in reality, drivers were incorporated in to the business and were significantly controlled by Uber when carrying out work. The tribunal had correctly decided that the reality of the situation was that Uber drivers were workers.
Alan Price, Employment Law Director commented: "For Uber’s estimated 40,000 drivers in the UK, this is another positive sign that their true employment status is that of a ‘worker’ and, as such, they should be entitled to worker rights. They will have the right to seek minimum wage, paid holiday, working time rights and minimum rest breaks from Uber, with the financial implications of future rights and back pay claims falling on the business.
"The decision is also a further indication to “gig economy” employers and companies with similar business models that they may need to reassess their treatment of their staff to ensure they are giving the correct rights. Since employment tribunal fees have been abolished, there is no deterrent for individuals to challenge their given status. Numerous tribunal claims are currently being brought against companies, including Deliveroo and The Doctors Laboratory, from individuals seeking confirmation of their employment status.
"This will not be the end of the Uber case. It is highly likely Uber will continue to appeal the decision and, during the EAT hearing, there was even a suggestion that they could leapfrog the Court of Appeal and take their case directly to the Supreme Court. A number of other companies are also facing appeals in the coming months, with CitySprint in the EAT at the end of November and Pimlico Plumbers appealing the decision that a plumber was a worker at the Supreme Court in early 2018."