In late October, two drivers James Farrar and Yaseem Aslam working for taxi app Uber, where customers are able to request and pay for taxis on their smartphone, brought an employment tribunal against Uber and won. The two drivers were chosen to test the case against Uber on behalf of the other potential claimants.
It has been found that the drivers were not self employed as Uber claimed, but in fact employed by Uber as workers. This success has given the two drivers rights that a worker would receive usually, such as the right to pay be paid minimum wage and be entitled to paid holidays, which the drivers were previously not entitled to.
This has opened up a huge opportunity to Ubers other drivers, currently there are around 40,000 drivers employed in the UK, who may also be able to make a future claim. Some Uber drivers take less than the national minimum wage an hour and have to work long hours; however this breakthrough tribunal could be set to change this.
It has been said that Uber are set to appeal the ruling.
Perhaps the most positive aspect of this result is that it may pave the way for further reform as to the current on trend ‘gig economy’ where a person is deemed to be self employed and can choose when they work and for whom they work. This trend has been aided by developments in technology and the popularity of smartphones, for example the Uber app is the sole way in which a customer can book one of their taxis. This may seem beneficial to some; however there is little or no protection for those under taking the work, as they are classed as self employed, which is a cause for concern. Due to the fact that a person is able to work when they wish, it is hard to regulate the hours they do in a day and check whether they are taking appropriate breaks and resting. This is a serious worry when considering the Uber situation as a driver may do long shifts on the road with no breaks, whereas drivers that are employed would have a maximum amount of time they can drive for before being required by law to take a break.
It is hoped that this decision to class the two Uber drivers as workers will mean that more rights will span out to its other drivers and hopefully to other similar firms, as the growing trend means many people are likely to participate in the work of the gig economy. It will be interesting to see how the employers of these types of workers will change and protect their rights following this breakthrough ruling as well as how the law will protect these ‘workers’ in any further cases.