November 30, 2016

Uber Drivers Are Workers, Not Self-Employed Contractors

In the case of Aslam and others v Uber BV ET/2202550/15, the Employment Tribunal considered the employment status of Uber drivers.

Uber drivers brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal, alleging that they were workers, not self-employed contractors. Uber claimed that rather than being a provider of transportation services, it was merely a technology platform enabling self-employed drivers to connect with passengers. The Tribunal dismissed this, considering “the notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common 'platform' [to be] faintly ridiculous”. It held that any driver who had the Uber app switched on, was within the territory in which they are permitted to work, and was willing to collect passengers, was working for Uber under a worker contract and so was a worker. Worker status affords a select number of employment rights, including the right to the national minimum wage, protection from unlawful deductions from wages and paid annual leave. However, workers are not entitled to statutory employment rights, including protection from unfair dismissal.

Uber is appealing the decision which, as a first instance decision, is not binding on other courts. There does, however, appear to be a general shift in the way those working in the “gig economy” wish to be treated, as shortly following that decision, couriers of the food delivery company Deliveroo took legal steps to obtain union recognition and workers’ rights.

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