This Friday (13 October 2017) will be the deadline for ride-hailing app company Uber to confirm if they will appeal Transport for London’s decision not to renew their licence to operate in the capital.
Uber was initially issued with a five-year private hire licence to operate in London in 2012. Around 1.3 million Londoners use the app for transportation services and the decision may put 40,000 Uber drivers livelihoods at risk but the company have been rocked by recent concerns about customer safety.
Talks have been ongoing between the newly-appointed CEO of ride-hailing app Uber and Transport for London (TfL) since its September decision not to renew the company’s licence to operate in the capital. Discussions have been described as “constructive” with Uber “determined to make things right” but the deadline for the company to confirm whether it will appeal the decision is now looming.
Uber have been a prime example of the so-called “gig economy” where companies like Deliveroo and Hermes can thrive based on a level of flexibility on both sides of the employment relationship. However this has led to controversy and Tribunal challenges regarding the employment status of drivers and the rights they should be able to exercise.
We have previously blogged about the status of taxi drivers engaged by Uber. The case held that drivers were neither self-employed contractors nor employees but should be considered “workers” due to level of control exerted by Uber over their drivers. As a result of that decision, drivers should have the associated rights of the minimum wage, annual leave and sick pay. This would mean however that if Uber ceases to operate in London, those drivers would not be entitled to a redundancy payment as they are not deemed to be “employees”. As the company has only been operating in the city for a short period of time and redundancy calculations are linked to length of service, any payments would have been relatively small in any event
Yet Uber’s employment practises that dominated the headlines have been put in the shade by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who questioned the company’s approach to passenger safety, echoing the concerns that TfL had raised regarding the company’s reporting of serious criminal offences and criminal record checks of their drivers. Even Theresa May has waded into the debate taking a pro-business stance, describing the TfL decision to deny the licence as “disproportionate”.
Recent indications from the London Mayor are that a more conciliatory approach from the company has led to improved relations and that both sides are keen to resolve the matter amicably “around a table rather than through litigation.”