This month Uber has appeared in an Employment Tribunal after two of its drivers challenged their employment status with the company. Uber allows customers to book and pay for a taxi through its smartphone app which provides navigational support to drivers and charges customers for their journey. Uber subsequently pays its drivers a proportion of the journey fee.
The test case centres on whether the drivers, who are supported by the GMB union, can be considered ‘workers’ or, as Uber argues, as self employed. The ‘worker’ classification would grant the drivers certain employment rights not afforded to self employed contractors. For instance, ‘workers’ are entitled to holiday pay, minimum wage, protection from unlawful deductions from their pay, pension auto-enrolment, protection from discrimination, dismissal and detriment due to part time status or whistleblowing and may be entitled to sickness pay.
If the drivers are successful against Uber it is likely to open the floodgates to similar claims against other companies categorising their workforce as self employed. Indeed the restaurant delivery firm Deliveroo has recently been in the news regarding the status of their workforce, with Deliveroo allegedly amending contracts with its couriers to deter any claims in the Employment Tribunal.
With many claims relating to employment status potentially waiting in the wings businesses categorising a member of staff in a particular way should carefully consider all aspects of the working relationship. The starting point in determining the status of an individual will be the written contractual arrangement with the individual but day to day arrangements will be the main deciding factors.