The claimants were drivers for Uber. They had to establish that they were workers to bring claims for NMW, holiday pay and whistleblowing protection. The contractual documentation indicated they were self-employed and contracted directly with passengers, while Uber acted as the intermediary and just provided booking and payment services.
The Court stressed that the rights asserted by the drivers were not contractual rights but were created by legislation. So, in assessing worker status, the correct approach is to consider the purpose of the legislation, which is to protect vulnerable individuals who are in a subordinate negotiating position, with little or no say over their pay and working conditions.
The Court focused on five aspects of the tribunal’s findings that justified its conclusion that the drivers were working for and under contracts with Uber. These were that Uber dictated their rate of pay and contract terms as well as how the service was delivered, and that Uber restricted drivers’ freedom to choose when to work once logged into the app and their ability to communicate with passengers.
The correct approach to worker status is to consider all the relevant circumstances, including the relationship between the parties in practice and the general purpose of the legislation in question. This decision has significant implications for businesses in the gig economy that operate in the same way as Uber, which are likely to face similar claims from individuals they engage as self-employed contractors.
For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in the United Kingdom, please contact Robert Hill (Partner) at Clyde & Co at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.clydeco.com.