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Uber v it’s Drivers and Uber’s in trouble again!

There are three categories under which people can provide work. The first is as an employee, the second is as a worker and the third is as self-employed. The category you fall under will provide you with differing sets of legal rights and protections. This is what was up for dispute in the most recent of Ubers court room dramas.

Uber has been claiming its drivers are self- employed, whilst they control how drivers provide their services through the app. Uber have held throughout the their recent employment tribunal hearing that as drivers are able to log in and out of the app as and when they wish to provide their services they cannot be classed as a worker. The employment tribunal disagreed with this and found that any driver who has the app for Uber switched on, is within their authorised territory and is able and willing to accept assignments would be a “worker” whilst those conditions are met. The employment tribunal also disagreed that a contract existed between the driver and the passenger as the fee and the prescribed route for the journey were arranged by Uber.

Uber appealed the employment tribunal’s decision as they continued to hold on to the notion that their relationship with the drivers was one of agency. They supported this argument with the fact that drivers were in business on their own account and Uber was their agent agreeing contractual terms between the drivers and passengers.
The employment appeal tribunal dismissed the appeal and held the drivers did fall under the category of workers as Uber’s arrangements and controls did not support a direct contract between the passengers and drivers on every trip. Uber exercised a level of ‘performance review’ in that if drivers’ ratings fell below a requirement they would be locked out of the app. They would also lose their account status if they failed to accept at least 80% of trips. These limitations meant that drivers could not fall under the self-employed category.

An issue with classing Uber drivers as workers was that the employment appeals tribunal had difficulty in establishing whether they were also workers in between accepting fares. This is an issue crucial to the argument because to apply appropriate laws we must be able to determine the drivers’ “working time”. The employment appeal tribunal decided that this would be a question of fact in each case, as circumstances of each driver can be different.

For Employment advice contact Chris Sykes Head of Litigation and Employment.