• International Workplace
  • 16 January 2019

Uber loses another gig economy appeal

In its third legal defeat in as many years, Uber has lost its appeal against a ruling that its drivers should be treated as workers, rather than self-employed, and are therefore entitled to rights such as holiday pay and the minimum wage. 

The Court of Appeal has upheld a decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which dismissed Uber’s appeal against an earlier Tribunal ruling.

The first ruling against Uber was given in October 2016, when the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled in union GMB's favour – determining that Uber drivers are not self-employed, but are workers.

Instead of accepting the judgment of the courts, Uber took its case to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), which also ruled against the ride-sharing company.

The Court of Appeal judgment is Uber's third legal defeat on this issue.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

“We’re now at a hat trick of judgments against Uber, they keep appealing and keep losing. Uber should just accept the verdict and stop trying to find loopholes that deprive people of their hard-won rights and hard-earned pay.

"Employers are on notice that they can’t just run rough shod over working people to put more on the bottom line for shareholders.”

Nigel Mackay, partner in Leigh Day’s employment team, said:

“We are very pleased that the Court of Appeal has again upheld the Employment Tribunal’s findings that Uber drivers are workers of Uber. 

“This is the third time that the drivers have been victorious in their fight for workers’ rights, but Uber has yet to give their drivers what three legal decisions have ruled they are entitled to – holiday pay and to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage.

“We hope that Uber now faces up to its responsibilities instead of spending time and money in the courts attempting to deny its drivers these rights.”

Uber said it will appeal to the Supreme Court, adding that the decision does not reflect why the "vast majority" of drivers use its app. It pointed out that one of the three judges agreed with its argument.

"This decision was not unanimous and does not reflect the reasons the vast majority of drivers choose to use the Uber app," an Uber spokesperson said.

"Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed. Drivers who use the Uber app make more than the London Living Wage and want to keep the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive. If drivers were classified as workers they would inevitably lose some of the freedom and flexibility that comes with being their own boss."