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Uber loses appeal on worker status

22/11/2017

Lodders’ Employment Law expert, Nick Rowe explains the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision on the worker status of Uber drivers.

Following the well reported decision in respect of employment status (covered in our updates previously), the EAT has dismissed an appeal against an employment tribunal’s decision that Uber drivers were workers for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR 1998).

The EAT rejected Uber’s argument that it was simply a technology platform acting as agent for drivers by putting them in touch with passengers and that it was in no way a provider of taxi services.

The EAT held that the tribunal applied the correct legal principles and reached permissible conclusions. It therefore upheld the decision that the drivers were engaged as workers for as long as they were in the territory in which they were authorised to work, they were signed into the Uber app and were ready and willing to accept bookings. This same period of time counted as working time under the WTR 1998 as well as the number of hours worked for the purposes of the national minimum wage provisions.

This decision does not involve any novel legal principles but will be of interest to other gig economy businesses operating similar models to Uber, as well as those people working for such businesses. It is reported that Uber intends to appeal the EAT’s decision and that it is considering applying to appeal direct to the Supreme Court, leapfrogging the Court of Appeal. (Uber BV and others v Aslam and others UKEAT/0056/17.)

“This decision doesn’t come as any great surprise at all; nor does Uber’s apparent determination to fight this determination ever further when considering the impact of the decision on its business model” explains Nick.

“Whilst the decision does not really create any novel law, it is interesting to see how the law has been applied to a contractual relationship created to address a very modern way of engaging with individuals who provide services to “employers” on a less traditional employer/employee basis.”

Lodders’ team of employment solicitors always offer accurate, focused and solution-based legal advice to a wide range of clients. We have forged an excellent reputation for advising SME’s, publicly owned companies, charities and other bodies in respect of all manner of employment related issues. Nick Rowe in particular has a wealth of experience in acting for individuals and employers of a ranging types and sizes on the issue of employment status. For help or advice please contact Nick Rowe on 01242 229 096 or drop him an email.

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For help or advice please contact Nick Rowe on 01242 229 096 or drop him an email.