In the continuing worker status saga, Uber’s recent appeal against the Tribunal ruling that its drivers are workers, rather than self-employed individuals, has been dismissed by the EAT.
Uber continued to argue that it acts as an agent between the driver and the client, simply providing the link between them through an online platform which facilitates the provision of taxi services. Uber went on to highlight that the contract does not oblige drivers to have any commitment to work and allows them to work for any other company (including any competitors of Uber). It also confirmed that it does not require an interview or induction process for the drivers.
However, the EAT noted that, once the drivers log on to the app, they are “on duty”, are expected to accept at least 80 per cent of clients’ taxi requests and are penalised if they cancel a trip once it has been accepted. The EAT found that this indicates a worker relationship and not an agency arrangement. The EAT looked beyond the contract and found the reality was at odds with the relationship Uber stated the contract purported to create. Therefore, Uber could not rely on the written terms and labels used by the parties. The EAT considered the drivers are indeed workers for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the Working Time Regulations 1998 and the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.
The decision is another setback for Uber in the UK following Transport for London’s recent decision to strip it of its licence. It is not yet clear whether Uber will appeal to the Supreme Court. You can read the full judgment here.