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Tribunal finds in favour of Uber drivers

The much-publicised employment tribunal claim brought against taxi firm, Uber, concluded last week and the ruling could have major implications for many businesses operating in the so-called gig economy.

Two Uber drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, supported by the GMB union, brought the claim arguing that they are “workers” and that they were therefore denied basic employment rights.  Uber have always maintained that all their drivers are self-employed.

Following a hearing in the summer, the employment tribunal has now ruled in the drivers’ favour.  According to the tribunal, they are “workers” within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

This confers on Uber drivers certain basic rights including the national minimum wage, 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday each year, rights relating to the 48 hour maximum working week and rest breaks.  Although they are not “employees” and will not therefore benefit from full employment rights (such as protection from unfair dismissal and the right to redundancy pay) the financial repercussions of this ruling are potentially huge. Uber itself has 40,000 drivers and many other companies operate on a similar basis – using flexible labour to fulfil a market demand. 

The decision goes to the heart of Uber’s business structure and the company has already confirmed that it intends to appeal against Friday’s ruling.  Uber argues that its drivers enjoy the extra flexibility that the business model offers and that their drivers wish to have the freedom of self-employment. 

Trade unions, meanwhile, have welcomed the tribunal’s decision, arguing that an increasing number of workers nationwide are being exploited by these working arrangements.

This is a case which will undoubtedly run for some time, and alongside the recently announced Taylor review, we expect much debate around the future of modern employment practices.




Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.