The Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed Uber’s appeal and ruled that Uber drivers ARE workers. The Court reiterated that it is not what the written contract states that should be the starting point, but the reality of the situation and the level of control exercised over the individuals. The rights of the drivers are created by legislation, not their contract of employment.
Uber operates via an app through which customers can book a taxi ride if a driver also has the app. Whilst Uber drivers own their own cars and can choose when to make themselves available for work, they only have 10 seconds to reject a job and if they do not reject, it is deemed accepted. Further, by way of sanction, the drivers are logged out of the app if 3 consecutive requests are not accepted within the 10 second window.
The Court focused on 5 key factors:
- Uber dictates the rate of pay;
- Uber dictates the terms of the contract;
- Uber restricts drivers’ freedom to choose when to work once logged in to the app;
- Uber controls the way the service is delivered; and
- Uber confines drivers’ ability to communicate with passengers.
The Court also confirmed the Employment Tribunal’s finding that Uber drivers’ working time includes all the time that they are in the area that they are authorised to work, logged into the Uber app, and ready to accept work.
This ruling means Uber drivers are entitled to holiday pay and national minimum wage for the whole of their working time. They will also be able to backdate any claims by up to 2 years. However, they do not have unfair dismissal rights as only employees have the right not to be unfairly dismissed.
This case has serious implications on the gig economy and businesses will need to review what is happening on a practical level. We can help with this process and advise on what you should be doing. Get in touch today with our Employment Lawyers to ensure you are compliant!