8 November 2015: UK Uber Drivers seek Employment Status
As reported in the press this week, UK Uber drivers are planning legal action to claim employment or worker status:
Worker Status: A Worker is someone under contract, express or implied, written or verbal under which the individual undertakes to do work personally, and where the ‘employer’ is not a client or customer of a business carried on by the individual.
If worker status is established, then Uber drivers will be entitled to statutory paid holiday and the national minimum wage, potentially at a significant cost to Uber. Factors will include whether the drivers are in business on their own account, doing work for other cab companies, or whether they work solely for Uber.
Employee status: Again employment contracts can be express or implied. Uber will presumably have drafted its contracts for drivers to minimise the risk that employment rights will be construed. However a Judge may well look at the reality of the working relationship.
Factors to be taken into account by the Judge will include the degree to which Uber controls how and when they work, whether Uber is obliged to provide them with work and whether they are obliged to carry it out, as well as other factors such as whether drivers provide their own vehicles and motor insurance.
If employment status is established, then drivers will be entitled to statutory protection from unfair dismissal after 2 years’ service, and statutory redundancy payments etc.
Similar issues were considered in Pimlico Plumbers v Smith last year when a self-employed plumber working for Pimlico won worker status. Uber will presumably vigorously defend any such claims and the legal and factual issues are complex. However in an age when businesses increasingly seek to rely on self-employed consultants and zero hours contracts, the outcome will be of interest to many.
We are employment solicitors advising on employment and worker status, and have represented a large group in a similar claim which resulted in a settlement for the Claimants. www.reculversolicitors.co.uk