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19 Uber drivers challenged Uber’s position that they were self-employed.

Author: Jason Williams
Reading time: 2 minutes

This article is 5 years old.

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Many of you may use Uber as a cheap way of getting around but did you know the controversy surrounding Uber and the ‘employment case of the year’ ? It may also have significant repercussions for many car dealers and anybody they use for work on a self-employed basis.

19 Uber drivers challenged Uber’s position that they were self-employed. They said that they should be considered workers for Uber and therefore entitled to their full employment contractual rights. In July 2016 the Employment Tribunal agreed with the Uber drivers saying that because of the model Uber used they should be considered as a worker and not self-employed. They are therefore now entitled to holiday pay, rest breaks, national minimum wage and other contractual benefits.

This was hugely controversial as it could have massive implications for many self-employed persons. Some Uber drivers don’t even want to be considered as workers and are quite happy being ‘self-employed’ by Uber. The Uber drivers who bought the claim say they do not have full control over their working arrangements and these are largely controlled by Uber. The opposing argument is that they are not supplied with a vehicle, can choose their own hours and do not have to work if they don’t want to. Despite having full control of when they worked if the Uber drivers were on standby they could be considered to be working as they were required to be available. It was argued that if you were truly self-employed you would be able to turn down any work you wanted.

Each case is likely to be dealt with on a case by case basis and would consider many factual questions such as does the ‘worker’ have a start and finish time, are they able to refuse work, do they have a uniform and many other questions to determine if they are technically self-employed. Tribunals will look beyond the term self-employed to see the actual status of the person and so it may be worth seeking advice if you use people to carry out work on this basis.

Uber have recently been given permission to appeal this decision and the case is likely to be heard in September. We will keep you up to date.

Jason Williams

Legal Advisor

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