With much press attention, the global transportation technology company, Uber, has lost an appeal against a ruling against their drivers being classed as workers with minimum wage rights and are now not self-employed. The eagerly awaited judgement was handed down by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on Friday 10th November.
Uber’s gig economy-type model has been a long-standing row due to the company classifying their drivers as self-employed. This means the workers are not entitled to the same employment rights as full-time permanent staff at Uber.
In October 2016, the employment tribunal ruled that two Uber drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam should be classed as workers, and should therefore be entitled to the national living wage, holiday pay and sick pay among other protections. Uber then argued that the organisation was a technology company rather than an employer and took the case to an EAT.
Yaseen Aslam said, “Today is a good day for workers, we made history. The judge confirmed that Uber is unlawfully denying our rights. It’s about making sure workers across the UK are protected. Companies are hiding behind technology, bogusly classifying people as self-employed, so they can get away from paying minimum wage. This can’t be allowed to happen”.
It is believed the decision will have large consequences for the gig economy. Both Addison Lee and Deliveroo are also appealing against similar decisions relating to their employee’s status.
Lee Rogers, associate in the employment team at Weightmans, has advised organisations who use similar models to Uber and Deliveroo to seek legal advice. This is to ensure their contracts and policies involving the engagement of their staff are ‘watertight’. This is so there is no confusion, if the contracts are secure and accurate, there should never have been any need for an employment tribunal to take place.
Some firms are already seeing a rise in the amount of employment status claims and with the abolition of employment tribunal fees, it is only set to increase the amount of claims even further. The rulings to provide guidance on employment status however, there is still a ‘lack of certainty’ in this area.
It is expected the judgement of Uber’s case will skip the Court of Appeal and head straight to the Supreme Court. There is a lot at stake for business, unions, the government and the large amount of workers operating in the gig economy, for this decision to be final.
It’s so important that an individual is made aware whether they’re self-employed or a worker, as they both have different rights. All of this should be explained in the individuals contract so there is no confusion. It will also help to prevent individuals from taking their employer to an employment tribunal and as we can see from the above, there could be some serious consequences for the business.
Below shows some of the differences between an employee, worker and someone who is self-employed.
An employee is required to work regularly unless they are on leave (sick, holiday or maternity leave). Employees also work a minimum number of hours and a manager or supervisor is responsible for their workload. They also receive holiday pay and are entitled to contractual or statutory sick, maternity or paternity pay.
Workers are known to do casual or irregular work for someone. An employer doesn’t have to offer them work and the worker doesn’t have to accept it. Workers work on their own accord and their contract will use terms such as ‘casual’ ‘zero hours’ ‘freelance’ or something similar.
If you are a self-employed worker, you are under no direct supervision when you are working. A self-employed worker also doesn’t receive any holiday or sick pay when they don’t work. They also have specific pieces of work or projects to do, but they decide how the work should be completed.
If you need advice or have any questions on employee status or making sure your contracts and policies are ‘watertight’, then please contact a member of the HPC team:
T: 0844 800 5932