The Uber app has been one of the fastest growing phenomenon of recent years in the UK, with the transport app’s availability growing quickly from London to Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham – with more locations on the horizon.
The app provides a taxi service which is controlled entirely through a smartphone screen. The user ‘hails’ an Uber close by, and a set price is agreed and paid through the app, no cash changes hands.
Uber rates are typically cheaper than private hire cars, and the immediacy and simplicity of the service has made it a hit with UK consumers.
The service is growing at enormous speed, with 7,000 London drivers in 2014 growing to over 20,000 in 2015.
However, more than 100 drivers working for the app are now looking to take action over their employment rights, as Uber drivers are currently classed as self-employed while working for the tech giant. UK Uber drivers are now looking to achieve worker status, which will transform the current business model of the app.
The first four cases, lodged in early November in London, argues that the self-employed worker classification means that basic worker rights are breached by the company.
The current system is that drivers pay a fee to become employees of Uber and access the technology, and the app takes a 20% cut on all fares taken by the driver (25% for new drivers).
Rights such as paid holiday and minimum wage are not covered by the current system. Drivers are arguing that elements of working for Uber, such as minimum hours requirements and required training by Uber, means that the drivers are technically not self-employed. Lawyers representing the drivers are arguing that the control the app has over its drivers indicates that the app has ‘employee-type’ status over the workers.
Workers hours are not regulated, which can lead to very long hours with few rest breaks, leading to dangers both for workers and fellow drivers on the road.
Drivers have also been removed from Uber’s service after complaining about working conditions.