Catching an Uber to the Supreme Court

Uber drivers are indeed workers confirmed the Court of Appeal, but this ride is not quite over as the next leg will take this important case (which could well have an impact on anyone employing ‘self employed’ workers) to the Supreme Court for a final UK ruling.

Uber drivers are indeed workers confirmed the Court of Appeal, but this ride is not quite over as the next leg will take this important case (which could well have an impact on anyone employing ‘self employed’ workers) to the Supreme Court for a final UK ruling.

It’s been more than 2 years since we first reported the Uber case and its significance for the many employers who make use of ‘self employed’ contracts. The case is significant as one of a high profile cluster of cases that seeks to challenge the employer’s contention that the worker is ‘self employed’ and therefore not entitled to holiday pay, sick pay etc. etc.

The latest ruling by a majority of the judges determined that the relationship between Uber drivers and Uber itself feels much less like the relationship between a contractor and a company and much more like a company employing a worker. With the exception of the dissenting judge, the other two judges ruled that Uber drivers were working from the point they turned on their PDA device which would determine their schedule. The majority view was that Uber runs a transport business and the drivers provide the labour for that business.

The dissenting judge disagreed and thought that the Uber-driver relationship was similar to a very well established model in the private hire business and he felt that even if they were workers, they should only be deemed to be working from the moment they accept a particular trip.

Nevertheless the majority ruled in favour of the Uber drivers and declared them to be workers and therefore entitled to a variety of employment rights. Uber have been given leave to appeal again to the Supreme Court and, Brexit aside, the last stop after that would be the European Court of Justice. Expect more on this story in 2019.

We predicted in early 2018 that self employment cases were likely to explode in numbers, and now that the no win no fee lawyers are recruiting heavily again (following the abolition of tribunal fees) we are still firmly backing this prediction.  With the amount of case law now amassing (Deliveroo, Pimlico Plumbers etc.) these cases are going to be relatively straight forward to bring and could deliver instant windfalls in terms of holiday back pay etc. If employers do nothing else in 2019 in respect to employment law, they should at least take the opportunity to objectively review any self employed contracts in the business. As ever, myHRdept would be happy to help.

If you’re thinking of outsourcing your HR or employment law needs, why not contact myHRdept? Call us on 01628 820515 to discuss your requirements or contact us and we’ll call you back.

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