Supreme Court Ruling: Uber Drivers Have Workers Rights

The result of this case (which Uber lost on each appeal from the Employment Tribunal to the Supreme Court) means the lives of around five million people in  the UK gig economy could be improved by granting them workers’ rights.  Uber and others who use similar tactics can no longer pretend to have no duties of an employer to the workers they control.

The UK Supreme Court has decided (19 Feb 2021) that Uber drivers are workers and not self-employed, in Uber BV & others v. Aslam & others.

This means that they have some of the same rights as an employee.

As the judgment says, Employment Law distinguishes between three types of people:

  • those employed under a contract of employment;
  • those self-employed people who are in business on their own account and undertake work for their clients or customers;
  • and an intermediate class of workers who are self-employed but who provide their services as part of a profession or business undertaking carried on by someone else.

Some statutory rights, such as the right not to be unfairly dismissed, are limited to those employed under a contract of employment; but other rights, including those claimed in this case, apply to all “workers”.

In the Uber case the critical issue was whether the claimants were working under contracts where they agreed to perform services for Uber London; or whether, as Uber argued, they were performing services solely under contracts made with passengers through the agency of Uber London.

The court unanimously decided that the drivers were working for Uber.  Among the reasons were the fact that Uber controlled the way the drivers operated, and Uber got the bookings and the payments from the passengers.   The vehicle licensing regime in London was another factor.

If you want clarification on the difference between an employee, a worker and a self-employed person, ACAS distinguish the three categories.

As an employee you have employment rights including:

  • written terms outlining your job rights and responsibilities, as a minimum
  • sick, holiday and parental leave pay
  • being able to claim redundancy and unfair dismissal after 2 years’ service

As a worker, you  have a ‘contract for services’ (to do work or provide a service for a payment or reward), which can be verbal or written.

  • you are employed to do the work personally
  • you have very little obligation to receive or do work (for example, a zero-hours contract where you’re offered work on an ‘as and when’ basis) but should do work you’ve agreed

You have employment rights including:

  • written terms outlining your job rights and responsibilities
  • National Minimum Wage
  • paid holiday
  • payslips
  • protection against unlawful discrimination
  • protection for ‘whistleblowing’
  • not being treated unfairly if you work part time

You’re usually classed as self-employed if you:

  • are responsible for how and when you work
  • are the owner of a company or are a freelancer
  • invoice for your pay
  • get contracts to provide services for clients
  • are able to send someone else to do the work for you, if appropriate
  • are able to work for different clients and charge different fees
  • do not get paid holiday or sick leave

At ContractStore we have several employment contracts and a useful contract for taking on someone as self-employed, Appointment of a Self-Employed Person – document E115  Or a self-employed freelance person can use our Terms of Business – document A113.