Uber drivers are workers

Keeping up with the stream of cases on whether people who provide services are workers or not can be tricky.

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Keeping up with the stream of cases on whether people who provide services are workers or not can be tricky! In the latest judgment, it has been held that drivers who work for the cab firm Uber should be classed as 'workers'. This is important because it means that the drivers have the right to receive the minimum wage and paid holidays.

The judgment could affect many thousands of people who work is the 'gig economy'. 

Uber tried to argue that the drivers were self-employed independent contractors – which would give them little in the way of employment rights and protection.

However, the Court disagreed with Uber's view and said that there was a 'high degree of fiction' in the agreement between Uber and the drivers.

The Government website states that a person is generally classed as a 'worker' if:

  • they have a contract or other arrangement to do work or services personally for a reward (the contract doesn't have to be written)
  • their reward is for money or a benefit in kind, for example the promise of a contract or future work
  • they only have a limited right to send someone else to do the work (subcontract)
  • they have to turn up for work even if they don't want to
  • their employer has to have work for them to do as long as the contract or arrangement lasts
  • they aren't doing the work as part of their own limited company in an arrangement where the 'employer' is actually a customer or client

The status of 'worker' is important because it entitles the person to certain employment rights, including:

  • getting the National Minimum Wage
  • protection against unlawful deductions from wages
  • the statutory minimum level of paid holiday
  • the statutory minimum length of rest breaks
  • to not work more than 48 hours on average per week or to opt out of this right if they choose
  • protection against unlawful discrimination
  • protection for 'whistleblowing' - reporting wrongdoing in the workplace
  • to not be treated less favourably if they work part-time

The case will be going to appeal at the Supreme Court – so the issue is not yet resolved.  The implications as to status of workers is important for both employer and employee.

If you want to discuss this or any other employment related issue, contact us.

Members: Simon Shaw, Elizabeth Rimell and Janice Leyland.
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