Supreme Court rules that Uber drivers are ‘workers’

Uber drivers should be classed as workers rather than as self-employed according to a ruling from the Supreme Court.

The distinction is crucial as it means drivers gain significant employment rights such as entitlement to the minimum wage and holiday pay.

The court’s decision marks the end of a four-year legal battle between Uber and two of its former drivers, James
Farrar and Yaseen Aslam.

They began their fight to be classed as workers in the Employment Tribunal in 2017. It ruled in their favour, after hearing that Uber paid drivers weekly, based on the fares charged for trips undertaken, less a service fee for the use of its booking app.

Uber argued that it was merely acting as an agent and that drivers entered into binding agreements with passengers to provide them with transportation services.

The tribunal concluded that any driver who had the app switched on and was within the territory in which he was authorised to work, and was willing to accept assignments, was working for Uber under a “worker” contract.

It held that any supposed contract between driver and passenger was a pure fiction, bearing no relation to the real dealings and relationships between the parties.

The Supreme Court upheld the tribunal’s decision.

In giving the ruling, Lord Leggatt said that the court unanimously dismissed Uber’s appeal that it was merely an
intermediary party and stated that drivers should be considered to be working not only when driving a passenger, but whenever logged in to the app.

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