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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for (and I don’t mean when Schools will reopen!), the Uber litigation has finally reached its conclusion.
Let’s start at the beginning, in 2016 some former Uber drivers claimed that they were in fact workers and not self-employed as Uber maintained. The drivers originally won an employment tribunal, which found that the drivers were in fact workers and Uber were responsible for paying minimum wage and holiday pay.
Of course Uber appealed the decision (lets face it, who wouldn’t facing such consequences and challenge to its entire business model). The Employment Appeals Tribunal found in the drivers favour, Uber appealed, the Court of Appeal found in the drivers favour, Uber appealed, (notice a pattern?) finally the Supreme Court some 6 years has had its say, and has again found in the drivers favour. Uber has now reached the end of the road - the Drivers are in fact workers not self-employed and are entitled to the protections workers benefit from under the employment legislation.
The Court determined that the drivers were in a position of subordination and the only way they could increase their earnings was to increase their hours. The drivers were not in business of their own accord, which would have been required for them to be self-employed.
What does this mean?
Well for Uber, it means that its probably going to cost them a lot of money! The Employment Tribunal will now decide how much compensation the Drivers are entitled to, and I am sure more Uber drivers will now start bringing claims.
But the real significance of this case is the impact that it will have on the wider gig economy and the businesses that employ delivery drivers and couriers. In 2019 it was thought that nearly 5million people were employed in the gig economy – and that will have increased given the situation over the last 12 months. This Uber case does not automatically mean that anyone working in the gig economy will automatically be a worker, but it does provide a strong basis for people to bring similar legal challenges.
Also, probably most importantly, when the Covid dust has finally settled, the Government may now actually look at what legislative protections can be put in place for those working in the gig economy.
If you would like advice about your rights at work, don’t hesitate to contact us.