Uber and Employment Status

On Friday 19th February 2021, the Supreme Court handed down Judgment in the long-running legal saga of Uber v Aslam. The legal battle that has taken place over the last 6 years, and the Supreme Court has found that Uber drivers are in fact workers, not self-employed contractors. The outcome is likely to have significant ramifications for individuals operating within the gig-economy, as well as for Uber itself.
The claim began in the Employment Tribunal back in 2016, and was originally decided in favour of the workers. However, Uber appealed the decision on two occasions, arguing that its drivers were self-employed contractors and therefore had minimal rights. However, these appeals were rejected, forcing Uber to pursue the matter in the Supreme Court.

However, despite Uber’s protestations, the Supreme Court found that its drivers are to be considered workers from the moment that they log onto the app to start work, until they log off at the end of the day. As such, drivers should be paid a full day’s pay, and not just for periods when they have passengers in the car.

As a result of the Supreme Court Judgment, the workers of Uber will now be entitled to claim the following:

  • Minimum wage for a full day’s work (not just when a passenger is in the car);
  • back pay (at the minimum wage);
  • paid breaks;
  • 5.6 weeks annual leave; and
  • The ability to pursue claims for discrimination or whistleblowing.

The Judgment will offer some protection to vulnerable individuals who would otherwise have little or no input into their working conditions. However, Uber’s 60,000 UK workers will not be entitled to pursue claims for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal. This level of protection is reserved only for those classified as Employees.

BTMK can help employers and employees with all employment related issues, whether it’s dealing with non-contentious or contractual issues or issues of employment litigation being dealt with in the tribunal. If you require assistance in relation to worker or employee rights, or any other employment matter, please contact me on 01702 238514 or samantha.hyslop@btmk.co.uk.

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