The EAT in Uber BV v Aslam has ruled that Uber drivers be classed at workers, for the purposes of their claims under the Employment Rights Act 1996, Working Time Regulations 1998 and National Minimum Wage Act 1998, rather than self-employed.
Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam succeeded in their employment tribunal claim last year arguing that they should be classified as workers with rights such as minimum wage and holiday pay. Uber challenged this at the EAT saying it could deprive drivers of the ‘personal flexibility they value’, however were unsuccessful in doing so.
When Uber drivers had the app switched on, they were obliged to be “able and willing to accept assignments”, were subject to a requirement that they “should accept at least 80% of trip requests”, and would suffer a penalty if they cancelled a trip once accepted. Those matters were indicative of a worker relationship and inconsistent with the contractual documentation or a suggestion that drivers were in business on their own account. The tribunal was therefore entitled to find that Uber was not acting as agent between the drivers and passengers.
It is likely that Uber will appeal this decision however Frances O’Grady, the Trade Union Congress’ General Secretary, has commented: “Uber should throw in the towel and accept today’s judgment. No company, however big or well-connected, is above the law. Uber must play by the rules and stop denying its drivers basic rights at work.” Further, “This ruling should put gig economy employers on notice. Unions will expose nasty schemes that try and cheat workers out of the minimum wage and holiday pay. Sham self-employment exploits people and scams the taxman.”