Kate Brooks

Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services

DATE PUBLISHED: 31 Oct 2016 LAST UPDATED: 31 Oct 2016

Uber UK drivers found to be workers and not self employed

Uber drivers found to be workers and not self employed. This means that Uber will be obliged to pay national minimum wage, holiday and accord with working hour legislation.

The tribunal judgment rubbishes Uber’s case, which was based around an argument that Uber is a technology platform and its drivers are self employed offering services to Uber punters via the app. Instead the tribunal decided that any driver with the Uber app on, and able to accept fares (i.e. in authorised area and willing to work) is a worker.

The judgment reaffirms that a tribunal will look beyond the paperwork. In this case the tribunal found that Uber had issued fake invoices between driver and passenger (that passenger would never see), and had issued sham contracts to the drivers, in and attempt to make out a self employed relationship instead of worker.

The following are some examples of why the tribunal found the drivers are workers and not self employed:

  • Uber interviews, recruits and subjects drivers to performance management/disciplinary if they do not follow Uber processes;
  • Uber controls the passengers the driver must collect, the route the driver must take, and penalises them for not accepting passengers/deviating from Uber routes;
  • Uber deals with complaints, and refunds monies sometimes without telling the driver; and
  • Uber takes financial risk i.e. if a car is soiled by a passenger, or passenger jumps the taxi without paying, Uber pays.

Aside from the employment obligations that Uber must now fulfill, the judgment goes to the root of the gig economy which has exploded over the last 5 years. Uber will appeal the judgment, which is likely to have an impact on other app based/digital companies that rely on short term, and casual assignments.

If you have any questions about employment status or obligations, contact Kate Brooks at kate.brooks@ellisjones.co.uk

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