Uber has lost an appeal against a ruling on employment rights, after a tribunal upheld a decision meaning drivers for the ride-hailing app should be entitled to basic workers’ rights.
The ruling, which comes less than two months after Uber lost its London licence, could have implications for around 40,000 drivers who use the app.
Uber said it would appeal against the decision, according to the Press Association.
Friday’s employment tribunal upheld a ruling in October 2016 that Uber drivers should be classified as workers.
Drivers are not self-employed, but workers entitled to basic workers’ rights including holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and an entitlement to breaks.
The 25 drivers’ claims brought by the GMB trade union, who were represented by law firm Leigh Day, were heard in the London Central Employment Tribunal in July 2016.
Since the 2016 ruling, the number of GMB member claimants in the group claim has increased to 68.
Judge Eady QC confirmed today that Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) members Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar were limb (b) workers at the time they were working for Uber and consequently entitled to the minimum wage and holiday pay, among other rights.
Maria Ludkin, GMB legal director, said: “This landmark decision is a yet more vindication of GMB’s campaign to ensure drivers are given the rights they are entitled to - and that the public, drivers and passengers are kept safe.
“GMB is delighted the EAT made the correct decision to uphold the original employment tribunal ruling.
“Uber must now face up to its responsibilities and give its workers the rights to which they are entitled.
“GMB urges the company not to waste everyone’s time and money dragging their lost cause to the Supreme Court.”
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Tom Elvidge, Uber UK’s acting general manager, said: “Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed. The main reason why drivers use Uber is because they value the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive and so we intend to appeal.
“The tribunal relies on the assertion that drivers are required to take 80% of trips sent to them when logged into the app. As drivers who use Uber know, this has never been the case in the UK.
“Over the last year we have made a number of changes to our app to give drivers even more control. We’ve also invested in things like access to illness and injury cover and we’ll keep introducing changes to make driving with Uber
The lawyers acting for the claimant were Paul Jennings, partner in the Employment team at Bates Wells Braithwaite, Rachel Mathieson, Solicitor and Hannah Wright, Solicitor.
Paul Jennings, a partner at Bates Wells Braithwaite, which acted for the two lead claimants, said: “We are delighted with today’s judgment which is ethically and legally the right outcome. The ruling will have significant implications for approximately 40,000 Uber drivers and, more broadly, individuals engaged across the so called ‘gig economy’.
He said that he it was anticipated that tens of thousands drivers would now seek to make substantial back-dated claims.
Rachel Mathieson, solicitor at Bates Wells Braithwaite, said: “This is a landmark decision in the context of an evolving labour market and one which we hope will be a critical step forwards in addressing exploitation in the gig economy.”
The ruling could have repercussions for other areas of the gig economy, such as delivery drivers and those who use takeaway apps such as Deliveroo.
Glenn Hayes, an employment partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “Today’s decision will not just affect Uber but will have a huge impact on other gig economy models.
“Workers from Deliveroo have brought similar claims and both Citysprint and Addison Lee are appealing against decisions which also found that their drivers were self-employed. These have not yet been determined and this decision is likely to affect these and other claims where the self-employed models of working are challenged.”