Uber drivers await verdict on employment status

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Tens of thousands of Uber drivers in the UK could qualify for holiday and sick pay when an employment tribunal reconvenes in London today, reports the Guardian.

In what has been considered as the employment law case of the year, 19 drivers have contested their status as self-employed workers.

They argued that the drivers’ employment terms and conditions meant they were not technically self-employed and should therefore be entitled to a range of benefits such as pension contributions as well as holiday and sick pay.

The case is emblematic of the growth of the gig economy, where companies use self-employed contractors rather than employees.

Uber has about 30,000 drivers in the capital and has expanded to several other UK cities. Lawyers for the drivers claim they are not self-employed because they are rated by customers and do not know drop-off destinations before the customer gets in the car. The case is being supported by the GMB union.

In a witness statement, one driver said in one month his net earnings were £5.03 an hour, and would have been £3.70 an hour if not for Uber’s “surge” pricing – higher charges imposed when demand is high.

Uber claimed that, based on the total number of hours logged into the app, the driver had been paid £13.77 on an average hourly basis. The judgment from the employment tribunal may be delivered on Wednesday or in the coming weeks.

Uber drivers have 20-25 per cent of their income deducted as commission each week. That proportion can increase if any additional deductions are made, such as a refund after a passenger complaint.

According to Uber, its UberX drivers earn well above the national living wage, with the average reported income at £16 per hour after the company deducts its commission.

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