Uber Drivers are Workers, Not Self-Employed
An Employment Tribunal recently decided that Uber drivers are not in fact self-employed and instead should be treated as workers.
The case concerned a claim brought by a group of Uber drivers who claimed that they were put under ’tremendous pressure’ to work long hours. One of the drivers asserted that some months he earned less than £5.00 per hour, far below the current national living wage of £7.20 per hour for those aged 25 or over.
As part of the case Uber argued that they were a technology company that facilitated drivers connecting with passengers, rather than a traditional taxi company. However, the Employment Tribunal disagreed with this, holding that it was ’unreal’ to deny that Uber was in business as a supplier of transportation services.
The decision to recognise the Uber drivers as workers means that they would be entitled to be paid holiday, sick pay, and receive the minimum wage and pension contributions. As they were not found to be 'employees' they would not be entitled to claim unfair dismissal or statutory redundancy pay amongst other rights. Uber has indicated that they intend to appeal against the decision.
The decision of the Employment Tribunal comes following growing concern of bogus self-employed workforces. It is estimated that 460,000 people in the UK are wrongly classified as self-employed and the government has recently announced a six month enquiry which will review the status and rights of agency, casual workers and self-employed persons and how best to protect them. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has also set up a dedicated unit to investigate businesses that have a large volume of agency or self-employed persons working for them, and it therefore appears that this is an area of employment law that will continue to be under close scrutiny in the coming months.