It’s Uber Day!

Today the Supreme Court released its judgment in the case of Uber -v- Aslam.

What is it?

This case deals with the employment status of private hire vehicle drivers who provide their services through the Uber app. It was brought to the Employment Tribunal by Mr Aslam and Mr Farrar as a test case to establish their employment status.

Why do we care?

Employment status is complicated, but in a nutshell, if Uber drivers were found to be ‘workers’ and not self employed, it means they are entitled to:

  • Minimum wage for the entire time they are logged on to the app, not just when driving
  • The right to be paid for annual leave, which is calculated based on the number of hours they are logged on

So, if you have a driver logged on for 8 hours a day but they only pick up 2 rides….they get minimum wage for the whole day AND start to build up holiday.

There are 45,000 Uber drivers, just in the UK…..that’s a lot of money that is potentially owed!

So what, I’m nothing to do with Uber?

It isn’t just Uber, it now gives the likes of Hermes drivers, Deliveroo, JustEat etc…a similar case.

If you engage freelancers it may be that they equally have a case, you should have your arrangements reviewed urgently. The back pay you could be liable for goes back 2 years.

The Law (how has this happened)

The main question was whether the drivers were classed as ‘workers’ under employment law. If they were classed as workers, this would provide them with the benefit of certain rights. These rights include the right to be paid the national minimum wage and the right to receive paid annual leave, amongst other things. The Supreme Court had to also consider, in the event Uber drivers were classed as workers, what time counts as working time for the purpose of the relevant rights.

Under the relevant legislation, the definition of a worker includes anyone employed under a contract of employment but will also extend to certain self-employed people. In particular, the definition includes an individual who works under a contract “whereby the individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract whose status is not by virtue of the contract that of a client or customer of any profession or business undertaking carried on by the individual”.

The Employment tribunal found that Both Mr Aslam and Mr Farrar satisfied the definition of workers. Uber appealed the Judgment.

Both the Employment Appeal Tribunal and then the Court of Appeal dismissed Uber’s appeals. The Supreme Court has now unanimously dismissed Uber’s appeal.

The court also found that Uber drivers are workers from the moment they switch on the app and are available for work until they switch off the app.

It means that the drivers are entitled to claim minimum wage and they can also claim backpay for this. Any claims would be based upon the driver’s whole working day, as per the description above.  This backpay could be claimed in the employment tribunal and £25,000 or up to 2 years back pay could be awarded.

Alternatively, drivers may wish to make a claim in the county court where it is possible to claim up to 6 years backpay.

This Judgement will have vast implications, not just for Uber and their drivers, but also for other companies who have been functioning in a similar way.

If you work for Uber or think this judgment might affect you, please get in touch and we will be happy to discuss this with you.

Credit: Jaimie Whiteley Employment Solicitor, Gamlins Law

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