Uber stuck at red whilst workers are given the green light
Further to our previous e-update which discussed the Employment Tribunal’s ruling that two Uber cab drivers are “workers” within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and working time and minimum wage legislation, Uber has stopped traffic once again with the news that their appeal against this decision to the EAT has been unsuccessful.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal’s (EAT) upheld the Tribunal’s decision the position that two Uber drivers (whose cases were test cases) should be considered “workers” and as a result are entitled to be paid National Minimum Wage, 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave, a maximum 48 hour average working week and rest breaks amongst other things.
This decision could benefit workers not only the tens of thousands of Uber drivers, but also those personally working for other companies, in particular as part of the “gig economy”.
The EAT endorsed the decision of the Tribunal that although the documentation may have been used to describe a non-employment relationship, in reality the relationship did not reflect this. The Tribunal was entitled to look beyond the terms of the contract where the factual relationship was inconsistent with the contract.
It is likely that Uber will appeal the decision. It has been speculated that Uber may try to have any appeal heard in the Supreme Court so that the case can be heard alongside the Plimco Plumbers case which is similarly about worker and employment status.
This hasn’t been the first blow for Uber this year. It would appear it has struggled somewhat to take business out of first gear following the refusal by Transport for London to renew the company’s taxi licence. However, these set backs are unlikely to be Uber’s final drop off in the UK as in the meantime. Uber’s 40,000 drivers in the British capital can continue to take rides there until the Licence appeals process is exhausted, which could take months or years.
As modern business ventures continue to adapt similar business structures to that of Uber, these cases will continue to be important signposts for employers in the “gig” economy, and those who rely on the personal service of workers, in hospitality and social care for example.
If you have any queries regarding the status of workers and their associated rights, our specialist employment team at MacRoberts will be pleased to help.