Workers or Self-Employed?

An Employment Tribunal has held that Uber drivers are workers for the purpose of the Employment Rights Act 1996, and the Working Time Regulations 1998. As a result they are entitled to certain protection and rights.

Uber is a technology platform which connects taxi drivers to passengers.  Uber has put in place documentation setting the drivers as self-employed contractors.  However the Tribunal when looking at the contractual documentation that was provided stated that the contractual description of the drivers was not the reality of the relationship.  The Tribunal decided that Uber as a business provided taxi services and engaged drivers as workers to deliver its business.  The Tribunal indicated that once the drivers were signed into the Uber app within their territory they were then ready and willing to accept bookings and therefore this period of time counted under the Working Time Regulations and also correlated with the numbers of hours worked for the purposes of National Minimum Wage.

We often have to advise organisations of the risk they run when individuals are recruited on a consultancy basis when in reality they are treated very much as workers and employees.  This is a prime example where a Tribunal has looked at the labels given to individuals, and indicated that the labels don’t actually match the real description and duties carried out by the individuals.

This Decision is likely to be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, and it is a matter of watching this space.

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