Claims on behalf of four Uber drivers have been issued at the Central London Employment Tribunal, the first of many such claims according to their lawyers as more Uber drivers sign up

The first formal legal proceedings in the UK against the San Francisco company behind the taxi hailing app Uber, were issued yesterday at the London Central Employment Tribunal on behalf of British drivers who claim the ride sharing enterprise does not provide them with basic workers’ rights.

The first four claims, being brought by law firm Leigh Day, claim that Uber drivers are workers, that there is a failure by Uber to pay their drivers a minimum wage and they do not provide any form of holiday pay.

Leigh Day will be issuing further claims on behalf of other Uber drivers and will be asking the Employment Tribunal to hear all of the claims together.

The claims at the Central London tribunal provide details on the ways in which lawyers for the drivers claim Uber is acting unlawfully toward its clients. This includes Uber frequently deducting sums from drivers’ pay, without informing the drivers in advance, including where customers make complaints.

It also alleges that one claimant’s contract was terminated after he highlighted how easy it was for drivers to upload false insurance documents to Uber, demonstrating serious concerns about the company’s procedure for checking the documents provided by drivers.

Nigel Mackay a lawyer in the employment team at Leigh Day who is representing the drivers explained:

“We understand that this will be the first time legal proceedings against Uber have been issued in the UK employment tribunals.

“We believe that Uber owes the same responsibilities towards its drivers as any other company does to its workers. Uber drivers should not be denied the right to minimum wage and paid leave.

“They should be protected from detrimental treatment if they raise serious concerns about unlawful activity. They should be able to work without fear of discrimination.

“Uber exerts significant amounts of control over its drivers in order to provide a particular offering to the public, which it sees as differentiating itself from other taxi services. If it wishes to operate in this way, and to reap the substantial benefits, then it must acknowledge its responsibilities towards those drivers as workers.”

These first four claims are being brought on behalf of the GMB union.

Steve Garelick from the Professional Drivers Branch of the GMB, and Branch Secretary, said: “Despite our best efforts Uber are continuing to ignore drivers’ needs.

“They have now forced a contract on drivers who are no longer partners but customers and are failing to cap driver intake further eroding the facility to earn a reasonable income.

“Drivers have little interaction with management whose preference is to respond on a message based ticket system.

“This shows disdain for the drivers. GMB hope more drivers will approach us for this remarkable action.”

Background

Uber operates a car hire platform that connects passengers to thousands of drivers through an app on the passenger’s smartphone.

Using the app, passengers can request they are picked up from any location within London (or 300 other cities worldwide).

Passengers pay Uber for the journey, which in turn, pays the drivers. Lawyers claim that not only are there breaches of employment law but also that there are serious health and safety issues as currently Uber does not ensure its drivers take rest breaks or work a maximum number of hours per week.

They argue this provides a substantial risk to all road users given that, according to Uber’s CEO, there will be 42,000 Uber drivers in London in 2016.

As well as this, there have been reports of drivers being suspended or deactivated by Uber after having made complaints about unlawful treatment, without being given any opportunity to challenge this.

The law requires that workers should not be denied the right to work for raising these issues. A successful legal action against Uber could see substantial pay outs for drivers, including compensation for past failures by the company to make appropriate payments to what lawyers argue are their workers.