Employees, workers, self employed - The employment status conundrum continues | Howells Solicitors

Employees, workers, self employed – The employment status conundrum continues

As always, there continue to be developments in employment law, even as we approach the festive period and the end of 2019.

In the latest in a line of cases relating to the gig economy, the Court of Appeal has given their decision in the case of Uber BV v Aslam & Ors – finding that Uber drivers are properly to be considered to be workers for the purposes of employment law. This case follows on from recent cases involving Addison Lee couriers and Deliveroo.

There is no one set test in employment law about how to establish if someone is an employee, a worker or self-employed. These various titles are important in establishing the employment rights open to the individual – particularly concerning their ability to claim unfair dismissal, to not suffer deductions from wages, to be entitled to paid holidays and consultation rights on redundancies.

The Court of Appeal in Uber, have concluded by a majority that Uber drivers are workers – they concluded that the drivers were providing skilled labour to allow Uber to deliver its service to customers. The element of personal service was important. The Court of Appeal also made it clear that considering the practical reality of a working relationship and not just the written terms of any agreement, was essential.

This case highlights the importance of ensuring that any written contracts and policies properly reflect the legal relationship between the business and the individual. There is no “one size fits all” contract to suit every situation, we advise that businesses properly consider what they want out of their staff, what level of control they want over them etc, before finalising their statement of terms and conditions.

On a similar vein. the government this week have announced their Good Work Plan following the Taylor review earlier this year – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/766167/good-work-plan-command-paper.pdf

This, coupled with some statutory instruments released subsequent to the Good Work Plan, set out intentions to improve and enhance employment law, with a particular focus on agency and zero hour workers. Some key provisions include:

changing rules over continuity of employment, meaning gaps of up to 4 weeks (currently 1) will not break continuity;
requiring workers as well as employees to be given a written statement of terms and conditions from day 1 of work
streamlining the employment status tests
changing the reference period for calculating holiday pay from a 12-week average to a 52-week average

These changes are positive, but some might say don’t go far enough. But, it is a positive step and it will be interesting to see how this applies in practice next year.

Howells’ expert employment team are here to assist you with any employment law issues. Get in touch on 0114 2496666.

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