Employment Status

In Uber BV v Aslam & ors the Court of Appeal has upheld the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal and found that Uber drivers are ‘workers’ rather than self-employed contractors. It was also held that Uber drivers should be regarded as working at any time when they: are within their territory, have their app switched on, and are ready and willing to accept fares. The same decision had also been reached by the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal previously.

It had to be determined whether the drivers performed a service for Uber, or whether Uber acted merely as an intermediary, providing booking and payment services, with the drivers carrying passengers as independent contractors. Despite the drivers’ contracts stating that they were independent contractors, it was held that this did not reflect the true nature of their relationship with Uber.

It was therefore concluded that they were ‘workers’ for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and the Working Time Regulations 1998, meaning that they are entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the National Minimum Wage. It should be noted that Lord Justice Underhill gave a dissenting judgment in this case, and that the Court of Appeal has granted Uber permission to appeal its decision, which they have signalled their intent to do.

This decision should be borne in mind by employers as it highlights the importance of ensuring that the terms of the contract of employment reflect the true nature of the relationship that exists.

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