The Supreme Court has given its decision about the employment status of the Uber drivers. Uber is a platform which is run via an app on a phone and, in the locations in which it is available, enables someone to hail a cab without the need to go through a booking process. The app puts the passenger and the driver in direct contact and works on the basis that the nearest driver will attend the pick-up.
Uber has had a long running employment dispute with its drivers as to their status. Uber argued that it only acted as an intermediary between the driver and passenger and that the drivers carry the passenger as 'independent contractors'. This is significant because independent contractors do not enjoy any employment rights as such. The Supreme Court followed the reasoning of the Court of Appeal and looked at the practical reality of the relationship and was prepared to disregard the assertion by Uber that the drivers were self-employed.
The court put it in these terms:
'New ways of working organised through digital platforms pose pressing questions about the employment status of the people who do the work involved. The central question on this appeal is whether an employment tribunal was entitled to find that drivers whose work is arranged through Uber's smartphone application (“the Uber app”) work for Uber under workers' contracts and so qualify for the national minimum wage, paid annual leave and other workers' rights; or whether, as Uber contends, the drivers do not have these rights because they work for themselves as independent contractors…'
The Supreme Court held that the drivers were 'worker's and this are entitled to the benefits of being a worker such as paid holiday, rest breaks and the national minimum wage. This is significant decision for Uber and others who work in the gig economy as the status of worker will increase the costs of the employer considerably.
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