The Employment Appeal Tribunal has today (10 November 2017) agreed with the Employment Tribunal that the Uber drivers in that case are workers and should have worker protections.
Uber had tried to argue in the Employment Tribunal that it was merely providing the means by way of a technology platform for drivers and passengers to be put in touch, so its drivers were not workers. This was not accepted and it was considered that Uber was engaged in the provision of taxi services and that provided drivers were in the territory in which they were authorised to work, logged into the Uber app and ready and willing to accept bookings, they were in fact engaged as workers.
As a result, Uber drivers, and potentially others working in the gig economy, should benefit from rights including the entitlement to annual paid leave and to receive the national minimum wage, as well as the protection from the unlawful deduction of wages and the benefit of rights under the Working Time Regulations.
If businesses like Uber can't sustain the National Minimum Wage (£7.50 for people aged 25 and over) then it begs the question of whether their business model is sustainable. Clearly worker status brings additional administrative burden to manage working hours, however, in our view, where worker retention may be an issue, businesses should embrace and improve workers' rights to become a go-to employer.