Uber’s appeal loss: the complications of employment status
On 10 November, taxi app Uber lost its appeal to overturn the decision of an Employment Tribunal that its drivers were entitled to workers’ rights such as the Minimum Wage and holiday pay.
This case is an important victory for workers in the gig economy and could have significant repercussions for other businesses.
It emphasises that tribunals and courts will look beyond what a contract simply says and consider the true nature of the relationship between the parties. Companies should carefully review their working relationships and ensure that their contracts and the rights provided to staff accurately reflect the true employment status.
While it is a favourable outcome for many drivers, the result remains controversial because Uber claims that over 80% of its drivers prefer to be considered as ‘self-employed’ due to the flexibility in working hours that affords them. An increasing number of the UK’s workforce prefer to have several jobs where they work on a freelance or self-employed basis for exactly that reason. Undoubtedly, such flexibility suits some individuals’ circumstances more than others, so the outcome may not be welcomed by all Uber drivers. Uber has also said it intends to appeal the decision, so the dispute is not likely to conclude any time soon.
This decision contrasts with the Central Arbitration Committee’s (CAC) recent conclusion that Deliveroo riders are self-employed because they have the option to use a substitute person who can provide the service.
It is also notable that both firms have made clear they are now taking significant steps to offer sickness and injury pay. Both cases demonstrate the influence the gig economy is having on the UK’s employment environment and the significant complexities for businesses surrounding employment status.