Legal News | 26.02.21
LEGAL UPDATE: UK SUPREME COURT RULING ON UBER
As you may already know, on 19 February 2021 the UK Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favour of 35 Uber drivers who were deemed ‘self-employed’ by the company, with the court granting them the right to instead be classed as ‘workers’.
Under UK law there are three categories of working relationship, from: employees, who have the most rights and benefits under employment laws; workers, a hybrid who are entitled to some rights; and the self-employed who are afforded very little protection.
What are workers entitled to?
Under UK law, a person deemed a ‘worker’ is entitled to certain rights, including:
- The National Minimum Wage;
- Protection against unlawful deductions from wages;
- The statutory minimum level of paid holiday;
- The statutory minimum length of rest breaks;
- To not work more than 48 hours or average per week;
- Protection against unlawful discrimination;
- Protection for ‘whistleblowing’; and
- To not be treated less favourably if they work part-time.
They may also be entitled to statutory sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay, adoption pay and shared parental pay.
What are employees entitled to?
In contrast, a person classified as an ‘employee’ is entitled to the following rights:
- Statutory Sick Pay;
- Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave and pay;
- Minimum notice periods if their employment will be ending;
- Protection against unfair dismissal;
- The right to flexible working;
- Time off for emergencies; and
- Statutory Redundancy Pay.
Some of these rights require a minimum length of continuous employment before an employee qualified for them, which may be stated in the employment contract.
The benefits and protection afforded under employment laws does not cover self-employed people in most cases, and therefore they do not have access to the employment rights and protections available to workers or employees.
What was the rationale for the UK Supreme Court’s decision?
The Supreme Court stated that drivers should be considered to be working not only when they are driving a passenger, but whenever they are logged into the app.
The court considered several elements in this judgment:
- Uber set the fare which meant that they dictated how much drivers could earn;
- Uber set the contract terms and drivers had no say in them;
- Requests for rides is constrained by Uber who can penalise drivers if they reject too many rides; and
- Uber monitors a driver’s service through the star rating and has the capacity to terminate the relationship if, after repeated warnings, this does not improve.
These factors led the court to determine that the drivers were in a position of subordination to Uber, with the only way for them to increase their earnings would be to work for longer hours.
It remains to be seen whether the decision will open the flood gates of similar claims and the impact that this will have on the wider economy going forward.
If you would like more specific advice on the impact of employee or worker classification or employment in general, then please get in touch with your usual contact or email: email@example.com.