A first instance Employment Tribunal in London has found that Uber drivers have “worker” status and are not self-employed as claimed by Uber.

The decision is likely to be appealed and at this stage does not create a legal precedent. However, it is potentially very significant as a matter of UK law. Workers status does not give full employee rights to shared or gig economy service providers.

However, “worker” status does give individuals the right to 5.6 weeks of paid vacation per year and to the national minimum wage which is currently set at £7.20 per hour for people aged 25 and over. It may also result in a right to pension contributions. The cost to shared or gig economy companies is potentially great.

The key issues revolve around the control that Uber allegedly has of its drivers in order to ensure quality of service. It was held that Uber controls key information, in particular regarding the passengers’ destination and potentially takes disciplinary action against its drivers who cancel trips, take poor routes or who receive poor ratings from passengers. The fact that Uber decides on the fare charged is also relevant. It has also found to be an important fact that payment of the fare does not go directly from the passenger to the driver but via Uber.

For all companies in the shared or gig economy this reinforces the need to give self-employed contractors as much freedom as possible as to how they perform their services so that the company can show that it is simply providing a technology platform for users and service providers.

Please do contact us if you would like more details of this case or to assist with any business in the shared or gig economy in the UK or the rest of EMEA.