Uber drivers win landmark Tribunal

Uber drivers who had argued that they should be classed as “workers” rather than self-employed have won their case at a London Employment Tribunal.

On Friday, the Tribunal ruled in favour of the two members of staff who had brought a case against the taxi app giant, arguing they were being wrongfully denied a number of key employment rights.

The decision could have significant implications for the 40,000 drivers who work for Uber in England and Wales and a number of other companies, including the food delivery firm Deliveroo and parcel delivery outfit Hermes, who operate a similar model.

Uber – which has maintained that many members of its workforce welcome the flexibility that their working arrangements offer – has already confirmed that it will be appealing against the Tribunal ruling.

A prolonged legal battle is likely to ensue, so it could be a considerable length of time before the ramifications are entirely clear.

Jo Bertram, Uber’s UK manager, said: “Tens of thousands of people in London drive with Uber precisely because they want to be self-employed and their own boss.

“The overwhelming majority of drivers who use the Uber app want to keep the freedom and flexibility of being able to drive when and where they want. While the decision of this preliminary hearing only affects two people, we will be appealing it.”

In stark contrast, the TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady, has argued that it is time that ministers cracked down on “sham” forms of self-employment.

“For many workers the gig economy is a rigged economy, where bosses can get out of paying the minimum wage and providing basics like paid holidays and rest breaks,” she said.

Andrew Firman, employment Partner at Carter Lemon Camerons, commented: “In the context of people whose working time is modelled upon a portfolio basis, this is all about who is in charge of the work that is being done in a given situation: is it the worker who can pick and choose when and how they work or is it the person who engages them who can then dictate the terms?”

Carter Lemon Camerons LLP Solicitors is a City law firm which provides legal services with a personal touch to both commercial and private clients. Unlike many City practices we are happy to act in smaller private legal matters, bringing the same care and consideration as we do to large commercial matters.  For more information about any aspect of employment law, please contact Andrew Firman or telephone: 020 7406 1000.