In a recent high profile case, Aslam and others v Uber BV and others, the Employment Tribunal ruled that two taxi drivers who provided services to Uber, were “workers” within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act, rather than self-employed.
The upshot of this ruling is that they are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ annual leave, a maximum 48 hour working week, rest breaks, the national minimum/living wage, pension entitlements and protection under whistleblowing.
“Worker” status entitlements differ to that of an “employee” entitlements and therefore they will not be entitled to the following unfair dismissal rights, redundancy pay, the benefit of trust and confidence and protection under TUPE.
Whilst it is highly likely that this decision will be appealed, the immediate ramifications could be huge for other “gig economy” companies i.e. where people get paid for the 'gigs' they do such as delivering food or a taxi journey, instead of receiving a salary. There may also be an increase in further claims from those who have previously been deemed “contractors” providing services, such as in the media, hairdressers, IT consultants. Businesses will now need to seriously consider how to use and contract on a freelance and self-employed basis. The Uber contracts stated definitively that drivers were “self-employed”, but notwithstanding this, the Tribunal disregarded the written clauses in order to conclude that in reality the relationship was that of “worker”. It is therefore essential that any written agreements that are in place, genuinely reflect the reality of the relationship.