Workers: Uber drivers are workers

In Aslam and others v Uber BV and others [2016] ET/2202550/15 the employment tribunal was asked to consider whether Uber drivers were in fact workers for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and the Working Time Regulations 1998. Despite Uber’s claims that it simply puts drivers in touch with passengers via its technology platform, the tribunal found that the reality is that Uber provides a taxi service and engages drivers to perform that service. Uber had used, and relied upon, its carefully drafted contractual documentation, but the tribunal did not give the contractual documentation any weight; saying that it did not show the true reality of the situation.

The key points of the claim, as decided by the tribunal, were that the drivers were engaged as workers for as long as they were in the working in the area authorised by their agreement, they were signed up to the Uber app, and ready and willing to accept bookings. Therefore this time period was to be used for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations and the national minimum wage, as they are now applicable to Uber drivers.

Whilst this is a ground-breaking decision that could have a major impact on the so-called “gig-economy”, Uber has said it will appeal and we look forward with interest to the outcome of such an appeal. It is also a salutary lesson in drafting – that whatever contract you rely upon must reflect the reality of the situation.

Published: 25 November 2016

Article Sections: Employment status

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