Uber loses appeal in United Kingdom employment rights case

Pauline Gross
November 13, 2017

In September, Uber appealed the 2016 tribunal ruling that found Uber had incorrectly classified a group of workers as self-employed rather than as contracted "workers".

In the wake of the ruling, the company has said it will appeal the court's decision and take it to the Supreme Court, more so as the ruling could have massive implications for Uber's operating model.

The ride-hailing app went to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) to challenge an earlier ruling by the Employment Tribunal which said Uber drivers are entitled to basic workers' rights.

It had appealed an Employment Tribunal case a year ago, brought by two former drivers, that ruled that drivers were effectively working for Uber while the app was switched on, and were not able to make themselves available to other operators as Uber claimed.

More broadly, the latest decision in Uber employment case shines a spotlight on the so-called "gig economy", where firms offer low cost and convenience at the expense of basic employee security for their workers. It is significant because "workers" under the law are entitled to rights like sick pay and the minimum wage, whereas the self-employed are not. Tom Elvidge, Uber's acting chief of British operations, said Uber would again appeal the decision, potentially bringing the case to either the Court of Appeal or the British Supreme Court, according to the Times.

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Jenning said it's conceivable that some Uber drivers could end up being workers and some could end up being self-employed.

Commenting on the landmark ruling, Jon Heuvel, employment partner at Shakespeare Martineau, said few should be surprised by the development because Uber had it coming. "No company, however big or well-connected, is above the law". "This ruling has arguably put the proverbial nail in the coffin of those businesses who seek to avoid the ramifications of worker status by trying to create unrealistic "self-employed" arrangements with those who work for them".

"Because if Uber gets away with this, then everywhere you turn in Britain you'll have people under this sort of fake self-employed conditions, carrying all the risk of the business and have no worker rights".

United Kingdom labor union GMB hailed a "monumental victory" over the firm following the case.

'Sham self-employment exploits people and scams the taxman'. The company has always maintained that drivers who use its platform are independent contractors.

Other reports by GizPress

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