An Employment Tribunal has today ruled that two Uber drivers who brought test cases against the company were ‘workers’ and were therefore entitled to holiday pay and to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage while working.
In UK law, having ‘worker’ status is a passport to a range of employment rights such as the national minimum wage, holiday pay and access to a pension scheme, although the full array of employment rights, including statutory sick pay and protection against unfair dismissal, is reserved for the narrower category of workers commonly referred to as ‘employees’.
For a non-employee to qualify for worker status there must be a contract between the individual and the ‘employer’ under which the individual undertakes to do work personally, and the ‘employer’ must not be a client or customer of a business operated by the individual. The Tribunal found those conditions satisfied on the facts of the case. It followed that the drivers had made out their case for worker status.
The fact that the Uber claimants have won their claim for worker status does not mean that cases brought by others who work in the on-demand economy will meet with the same success. Indeed it is notable that the Tribunal did not doubt that Uber could have, in principle, created a business model that did not involve the drivers having worker status. Each case will depend on the specific terms and arrangements between the individual and the company they work for. Nevertheless other firms who rely heavily on the ‘on demand’ freelance workforce will be watching cases like this keenly for any emerging trends that could have a significant impact on their business model.