A recent ruling has found that taxi drivers working for Uber are classed as workers and are not the self-employed contractors the company was trying to portray them to be.
The Employment Tribunal ruling in October decided that within the meaning of employment law, Uber drivers are workers which means they are entitled to minimum wage, protection against unlawful deductions and holidays as well as other rights that are enjoyed by workers.
The contracts given to the drivers by Uber detailed the relationship as that of a self-employed contractor. The worker status determined by the court means that Uber have more responsibility for the drivers than the self-employed title they were trying to prove the drivers had.
In coming to this conclusion, the tribunal looked at the reality of the relationship between the parties rather than simply the contract and considered the nature of the relationship and actions of the parties. Uber tried to argue their drivers had no obligation to work. However, the court found that the reality was that if drivers did not accept 80% of fares from customers, they would be penalised and they could be withdrawn from the app if their ratings fell below a set level. The method of payment and prices for fares were controlled by Uber and drivers could not negotiate fares with passengers.
Uber argued that they were a technology company, which allowed drivers to grow their own business with passengers and that each driver was a small business linked by a common platform. However, the court found that customers’ identities were not revealed to the driver and drivers could not solicit them for future rides. All of these aspects led to the tribunal concluding that the drivers were workers.
Uber has appealed the decision, but the only way this will be overturned is if it is found that the original judge erred in a point of law or reached a decision that is deemed so unreasonable that no other tribunal would have come to that conclusion.
This case highlights the importance the court will give to the protection of workers’ rights and the reality of the relationship rather than what is set out in the contractual documentation.
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Posted on November 23, 2016