The Supreme Court handed down its judgment in Uber AV and others v Aslam and others UKSC 2019/0029 confirming that Uber drivers are in substance, workers and not self-employed contractors despite Uber labelling them as independent contractors, providing them with more rights and protections and potential compensation. If you are an Uber driver, then you may be entitled to compensation such as Minimum Wage and holiday pay and our employment litigation team can assist you.
Uber drivers’ claims in the Employment Tribunal
The case began in 2016 when Uber drivers Mr Aslam, Mr Farrar and 23 other drivers commenced a claim in the Employment Tribunal regarding their employment status under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.
The Employment Tribunal decided in their favour holding that drivers were “workers” and were entitled to National Minimum Wage, paid holiday and protections from discrimination and unauthorised deductions from wages. Uber appealed in 2018 and when the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the decision, they pursued the case to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal’s agreement with the Employment Appeal Tribunal led to the Supreme Court hearing the case in 2020.
What is the employment status of uber drivers?
There are three main employment categories in the UK:
- Employees, who are guaranteed employment rights and benefits
- Workers, who are entitled to some of those rights
- Self-employed contractors, who have very little protection under employment law.
Uber drivers were classed as self employed which means they did not get paid National Minimum Wage or receive benefits such as holiday pay. Following the Supreme court decision, uber drivers should now be treated as workers.
What are workers?
A worker will generally:
- have a contract or other arrangement to do work or services personally for a reward (your contract doesn’t have to be written)
- receive a reward which is money or a benefit in kind, for example the promise of a contract or future work
- have a limited right of substitution
- have no option to refuse work
- be entitled to have work available to them
What does the Supreme Court decision say about workers?
The Supreme Court commented on the level of control Uber has over its employees which is usually a key factor in establishing an employer relationship and worker status. The Court took into account the following factors in assessing the drivers’ status:
- Standard contracts governing the services with no rights to amend;
- Separate contracts between Uber and the drivers and Uber and the passengers;
- Fare setting – drivers do not get a choice in this;
- Destination of passengers – the drivers were not informed of this until they accepted the job and could not decline requests;
- Set routes – Uber has a lot of control in setting out the route for drivers to follow;
- Intermediary between drivers and passengers – drivers have no direct contact with passengers handling all requests, complaints and interactions.
The Supreme Court considered all of the factors and upheld the original finding that Uber drivers are workers.
What does this mean for uber drivers?
Tens of thousands of Uber drivers can now claim the right to be classified as workers and will be entitled to certain protections and benefits such as National Minimum Wage, paid holiday and access to a workplace pension scheme.
The employment tribunal was, in my view, entitled to conclude that, by logging onto the Uber app in London, a claimant driver came within the definition of a “worker” by entering into a contract with Uber London whereby he undertook to perform driving services for Uber London.Lord Legatt
The Supreme Court said that courts should carefully scrutinise working arrangements of drivers to ensure individuals are not being denied key protections because they are classed as self employed. The substance of the relationship must be assessed.
The case will now go back to the Employment Tribunal which court will decide how much compensation Uber drivers are entitled to.
How do I make a claim to Uber?
Uber are now contacting eligible workers or drivers who submit a claim.
If you are an Uber driver, you may be entitled to compensation including National Minimum Wage and holiday pay, up to a value of £12,000. We can assist by making the process as simple as possible and we recommend you get in touch with our employment team as soon as possible.
Drivers will still be able to work for Uber whilst investigating and making a claim.
Why use a solicitor instead of a broker to submit your Uber claim?
Our team add value by optimising the value of the claim. There may be elements of a claim which have been missed or not considered by a non-lawyer such as a broker. Each case will have differ on merits and needs to be assessed individually. It is important to instruct specialist lawyers to present your claim in a way that makes it more likely for Uber to assess.
If Uber refuses to accept your claim, you may have to pursue litigation, which a broker cannot do. It is very important to consider litigation at the outset when seeking to negotiate a good settlement. Our litigation lawyers are experienced in settlement negotiations to get an optimum award for our clients.
Instruct our Employment Lawyers on a DBA
The majority of Uber drivers are based in London and our location in the heart of the City of London with access to specialist barrister chambers and the Royal Courts of Justice ensure we can assist drivers in the best way possible.
We ensure that we provide the best possible outcome for our clients by conducting in depth investigation and research into the realistic prospects of a case before selecting the appropriate course of action in order to reduce time and expense. Liability for costs is always an issue in litigation and based on our extensive litigation experience we provide our clients with as much strategic, practical as well as carefully considered legal advice in order to ensure minimum risk in respect of costs. Where appropriate we encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution (such as mediation and without prejudice negotiation) and our lawyer’s negotiation skills are first class. If early settlement at advantageous terms is not possible, we are extremely experienced and capable at navigating our clients through the litigation process.
A damages-based agreement is a contingency fee agreement agreed by a solicitor and a client which provides that a client will make a payment to the representative if the client obtains “a specified financial benefit” (usually damages paid by the losing side or via a settlement sum extracted). The amount of the payment will be determined as a percentage of the compensation received by the client (which will be set out in the DBA and agreed with the client in advance). If the client is unsuccessful in their litigation case, the solicitor will not be paid for the work done under the DBA.