Following the ruling, back in October 2016, which saw Uber drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, win their employment tribunal case against the US app regarding their employment status being incorrectly listed as self-employed rather than worker, Uber launched an appeal.
They argued that their drivers were self-employed and under no obligation to launch the Uber app and start accepting rides. However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal disagree.
Judge Jennifer Eady QC told the hearing, which took place earlier today, that once a driver has switched the app on in their area of work and accepted customers, they were ‘working for Uber’.
This means that, going forward, Uber drivers must be treated as workers and granted full workers’ rights such as national minimum wage and holiday pay.
Upon hearing this decision, Farrar said: “Uber cannot go on flouting UK law with impunity and depriving people of their minimum-wage rights. We have done everything we can, now it is time for the mayor of London, Transport for London and the transport secretary to step up and use their leverage to defend worker rights rather than turn a blind eye to sweatshop conditions.”
This change in employment status will affect the estimated 50,000 Uber drivers in the UK who are currently listed as self-employed.
Self-employed vs. Worker
The significance of this ruling is purely down to the major differences between being self-employed vs. a worker.
A worker is any individual who works for an employer, whether under a contract of employment or any other contract where an individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services. Workers are entitled to core employment rights and protections similar to that of employees. Most agency workers, short term casual workers and some freelancers would fall under this category.
If an individual is self-employed, they would not have a contract of employment with an employer. They are likely to be contracted to provide services over a certain period of time for a fee and be in business in their own right and pay their own tax and National Insurance Contributions (NIC). Self-employed individuals do not have employment rights as such, as they are seen to be their own boss and can therefore decide, for example, how much to charge for their work and how much holiday they give themselves. However, they do have some legal protection. For example, they mustn’t be discriminated against and are entitled to a safe and healthy working environment on their client’s premises.
As you can imagine, Uber were not happy with this ruling and have continued to defend their decision for classing drivers as self-employed, promising to appeal once again.
This ‘landmark ruling’ could have major ramifications in the growing gig economy, so watch this space.
If you are concerned about the employment status of your employees and how this ruling may affect you and your business, call us on 0845 2626 260.