The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has today given its decision that drivers, who provide services to the “gig economy” stalwart Uber, are “workers” within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The EAT found the original Tribunal was entitled to reject Uber’s argument that its business should be characterised as a technology platform, rather than a provider of transport services. The drivers’ work comes through an app, which when switched on obliges them to be “able and willing to accept assignments of at least 80% of trip requests” and they suffer a penalty if a trip once accepted is cancelled. These factors were found to be inconsistent with being self-employed and indicative of a worker relationship.

This means Uber drivers are entitled to a number of employment rights as workers, as opposed to self-employed contractors. They will be entitled to:

  • 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave each year
  • a maximum 48 hour average working week and rest breaks
  • the national minimum wage
  • protection of the whistleblowing legislation
  • protection against discrimination.

As they are not employees, they are not entitled to:

  • claim unfair dismissal
  • a statutory redundancy payment
  • protection under TUPE if Uber sells its business.

We wait to find out whether Uber will now appeal to the Supreme Court.

Although this decision is fact specific and based on Uber’s business model, it increases the chance of other “gig economy” companies facing claims that their self-employed or independent contractors have worker status’.

Please see our previous blogs on this subject:

If you have any further questions regarding this topic or any employment issues, please contact Rachel Harrap – Partner, or any member of the Edwin Coe Employment Team.

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

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