Uber – Defining the modern day worker
By now many of us have enjoyed the easy to use and cheap fares offered by the Uber taxi app. Unfortunately, Uber’s drivers have not been enjoying some basic legal rights such as a right to the national living wage. This is because Uber has defined their drivers as self-employed, a decision recently challenged in the Employment Tribunal with their drivers coming out on top and being classified as Workers. This decision could have serious ramifications on the companies using similar models.
Uber claimed that their drivers are self-employed meaning that they are not entitled to certain rights, rights many of us take for granted, such as the right to paid annual leave and the right to be paid the national living wage. Uber defined themselves as simply a platform from which their drivers connected and undertook transactions directly with their customer.
The drivers however argued that Uber in fact had a far greater level of control over them. The Tribunal found that Uber is not just a platform through which the drivers effectively run their own business; it was considered that it is Uber that is offering and marketing the service and not each individual driver marketing their own business through the app.
It is important to note that a Worker is not the same as an employee working under a contract of employment. Whilst a worker is entitled to some rights including paid annual leave and to be paid the national living wage, they do not have a right not to be unfairly dismissed, to maternity leave or redundancy pay which employees have, to name a few. The question of whether someone is a worker or an employee will be determined by considering numerous matters but one being the level of which you are controlled by the employer.
This decision is important as it sets a clear indication, that (whilst other future cases would be determined on their own facts) if a business is running a similar model to Uber e.g Deliveroo they are likely to be found not to be just trading platforms and may therefore find themselves being responsible for paid annual leave and subject to further obligations.
Whilst it is likely Uber will seek to appeal this decision, many will be keeping a keen eye on the outcome, as the law continues to develop alongside technological advancement and its place in business.