A historical employment tribunal has ruled in favour of Uber drivers in the UK – confirming that they are not self-employed, and so should receive the national living wage alongside other employment benefits. Uber will appeal the judgment.
James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam brought the case to tribunal on behalf of a group of 19 drivers, arguing that they were employed by Uber, and not working for themselves as a self-employment definition would imply. The victory will affect other Uber drivers throughout the country, and is expected to have implications for workers all across the ‘gig economy’.
The ruling pulled no punches, even accusing Uber of “resorting in its documentation to fictions, twisted language and even brand new terminology”, and adding: “The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our mind faintly ridiculous.”
“This is a monumental victory that will have a hugely positive impact on drivers,” said Maria Ludkin, legal director at the GMB union, which brought the case.
However, there’s now debate around what exactly this ruling means. Uber sent an email to 40,000 drivers on Friday, saying that they believed the ruling only applied to the two drivers involved, and not any of their colleagues. The GMB union disagree, and whilst they confirm that not all drivers will receive payouts, they argue that they will have to amend all employment contracts. The union also rejects the argument that Uber drivers earned an average of £16 p/hr over the last year.
A spokeperson for the ridesharing app said: “The ruling would affect the two drivers that were the test cases in the tribunal. However, while we appeal this judgement drivers that use the Uber app remain independent and able to choose when and where they drive.”
This is likely to be the first in a few similar tribunals – with cycle couriers taking similar action against CitySprint, Addison Lee, eCourier, and Excel. Law firms have also been confirmed to be in discussions with Deliveroo.
What are your thoughts on Uber drivers? Do you think they should count as self-employed for flexibility, or are they entitled to basic employment benefits? Let us know in the comments below!
Author Lex Barber