Uber have announced they will appeal Friday’s ruling, in which the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld the Employment Tribunal’s (ET) original landmark ruling that Uber drivers were workers.
Two former Uber workers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, argued they were workers and not self-employed. As workers, they would have statutory protection, entitling them to minimum wage, maximum working hours, paid holidays and paid breaks. As self-employed individuals, they would have very few employment rights.
Uber appealed the ET’s original decision, arguing its drivers were self-employed and not workers. The ET had concluded that an Uber driver was a worker when they: a) had the Uber app switched on; b) were within the territory in which they were authorised to work (London), and c) were able and willing to accept assignments. In addition to this, Uber’s contract terms with their drivers explicitly stated the right of use (of the Uber app) as ‘non-transferable’, stating “there is no question of any driver being replaced by a substitute.” These were indicative of ‘worker’ status and not self-employment.
Blurry line between employment statuses
Employment status determines an individual’s employment rights. The three main employment statuses are:
The line between employment statuses can be harder to determine than first appears, as shown in the Uber case. However, it is important an individual knows what status they are, as this has a direct impact on their employment rights. ACAS have guidance on this issue.
The EAT’s decision has been hailed as a “victory” for the estimated 40,000 Uber drivers in the UK. The case should also come as a warning to Uber’s fellow gig economy employers. Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said the case highlights that, “No company, however big or well-connected, is above the law.”