Are Uber drivers 'workers'?

It is likely you have read or heard about this case as it has rumbled on for some time and has been afforded quite a lot of coverage in the mainstream media.

Uber BV v Aslam & others

The Court of Appeal judgement on the previous Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision was published just before Christmas.

The question attempting to be answered is, essentially: ‘Are Uber drivers properly regarded as 'workers' or self-employed contractors?’

They are workers, held the majority of the Court of Appeal in Uber BV v Aslam & others, upholding the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Limb Workers or Contractors?

The central point of debate as regards worker status was whether, as the drivers argued, Uber contracts with the passengers to provide driving services, which the drivers perform for it; or whether, as Uber argued, it acts only as an intermediary, providing booking and payment services, and the drivers drive the passengers as independent contractors.

Split Decision

The judgement was not unanimous. The majority held that the written contractual terms do not reflect the practical reality of the relationships and can therefore be disregarded.

Uber drivers are classified as Limb Workers and are therefore entitled to the associated benefits that come with this, namely the national minimum wage and holiday pay amongst others.

Lord Justice Underhill, dissenting, held that there was no inconsistency between the written terms and the working arrangements: those arrangements were not essentially different from those commonly applying where taxi and minicab owner-drivers are booked through an intermediary.

The majority also held that drivers are under a positive obligation to be available for work while the app is on, and that that amounts to “work” for the purpose of the Regulations. Lord Justice Underhill would have held that drivers should only be treated as working from the moment that they accept a particular trip.

Further Appeal

The case is far from concluded and looks set to continue to work its way through the appeals process, as the Court of Appeal has given Uber permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. We will keep you updated as the matter develops.

You can read the full judgement here.


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