Uber faces court battle with drivers over employment status

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The UK Employment law’s ‘case of the year’ started today. Uber are facing a legal challenge from 19 drivers who say that they should be recognised officially as workers at the company, rather than being classed as self-employed.

The lawyers working for a group of Uber drivers will argue that the terms and conditions of their work with the company mean that they are not technically self-employed and should be entitled to a range of benefits that they currently do not receive.

When a person is classed as self-employed, they are not entitled to the National Living wage, pension contributions or holiday pay where as if they were classed as “Workers” then they would be entitled to these benefits along with the right not to be discriminated against and the right not to have deductions made from their salary (Workers have fewer rights than employees).

Annie Powell, a solicitor at law firm Leigh Day who will represent the drivers, said the case hinged on two things: the nature of Uber’s business and the control it had over drivers. “Uber is arguing that it is a technology company and that it does not provide a transport service to customers, it just puts them in touch with drivers,” she said.

If the drivers are successful in convincing the tribunal that they should be classed as “Workers” then other businesses may face similar claims. Annie Powell believes that there is a “creeping erosion of employment rights as companies misclassify their workers as self-employed”

Employment lawyers and other businesses with similar employment models will be watching this case closey as a successful claim against Uber could have wide ramifications for a range of workers in various industry sectors.


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