London Employment Tribunal rules Uber drivers should be classified as workers
In a decision described by the GMB union as a “monumental victory” for some 40,000 drivers in England and Wales, the recent ruling of a London Employment Tribunal now means that Uber drivers are entitled to the national minimum wage (currently £7.20 per hour for workers aged 25 and over), holiday pay, paid rest breaks, pensions and other employment entitlements.
The two drivers who brought the case against Uber, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, argued that their actions were controlled by Uber, which meant they were employed by the firm, but that they did not have the benefit of basic workers’ rights. Representatives for Uber, the San Francisco-based company argued that its drivers were not employees but self-employed contractors.
The ruling accused Uber of “resorting in its documentation to fictions, twisted language and even brand new terminology” and went on to say that, “the notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our mind faintly ridiculous.”
Although Shadow Business Minister Jack Dromey stated that “Uber are going to have to fundamentally rethink how they operate in this country”, it is clear that Uber are not going to give up without a fight.
It will be interesting to see how things progress and the effect cases like this will have on companies who rely on a flexible workforce and the so-called “gig-economy”.
If the appeal goes ahead, which is more than likely, it is unlikely that we will see a final determination for some time. It is also not clear whether other cases brought by workers in the “on-demand economy” will have similar success, as each case will depend on the specific terms and arrangements between the individual and the company they work for.