Uber has lost its appeal against a landmark gig economy ruling, after senior judges determined its drivers were classified as workers and not self-employed.
The ruling means Uber is responsible for paying its drivers national minimum wage, sick and holiday pay, which they do not currently receive. Uber first lost the right to class its drivers as self-employed in a tribunal in October 2016, after a UK employment court ruled it should instead class them as workers with access to all the necessary basic workers’ rights.
Uber lost a second appeal in November 2017, after the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) dismissed its appeal against the ruling that had decided former drivers Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar were “workers” at the time they were operating for Uber.
Tim Roache, the general secretary of the taxt driver union GMB, which helped to bring the original case, said,
We’re now at a hat-trick of judgements against Uber. They keep appealing and keep losing. ‘Uber should accept the verdict and stop trying to find loopholes that deprive people of their hard-won rights and pay.
The company said it planned to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court after being granted permission to do so. An Uber spokesperson said,
This decision was not unanimous and does not reflect the reasons why the vast majority of drivers choose to use the Uber app. We have been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court and will do so. Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed. Drivers who use the Uber app make more than the London Living Wage and want to keep the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive. If drivers were classified as workers they would inevitably lose some of the freedom and flexibility that comes with being their own boss. Over the last two years we’ve made many changes to give drivers even more control over how they use the app, alongside more security through sickness, maternity and paternity protections. We’ll keep listening to drivers and introduce further improvements.”
Commenting on the decision by the Court of Appeal, Carolyn Brown, partner and head of client legal services at RSM said,
The Court of Appeal today agreed that the agreements Uber documents with its drivers are not the reality of their legal connection. They assessed the actual arrangements and found them to be workers. However, Uber will be encouraged in their appeal to the Supreme Court by the fact that this was a majority decision. More expensively for Uber, the Court also agreed that its drivers are working whilst logged on to the Uber app even if they don’t have a fare, extending their working time. We must assume an appeal to the Supreme Court will need to be the decider.