February 24, 2021
Authored by: Adam Lambert and Peter Summerfield
The Supreme Court has unanimously concluded that the Uber drivers who brought claims against Uber in 2015 are workers within employment legislation, giving them the range of rights attached to that status, such as the national minimum wage, the right to paid leave and whistleblowing protection.
Facts and Employment Tribunal decision in 2016
As many of you will be aware, Uber is a ride-hailing service which operates through an app downloaded to a user’s smartphone. The app enables a user to request a ride and be picked up from a pre-selected location. 25 Uber drivers brought a case against the company, which reached the Employment Tribunal (ET) in 2016. The drivers sought to be categorised as workers as opposed to self-employed contractors. Uber’s position was that it simply provided a technology platform which facilitated the provision of private hire vehicles to customers. Uber argued that it served as an agent, with the driver and passenger entering into a direct contract for each journey.
The ET concluded that the drivers were workers. In reaching this decision, the ET considered the following factors:
- Uber mandated drivers to accept bookings and drivers who repeatedly cancelled would face sanctions
- Uber imposed conditions on drivers and instructed them on how to carry out their roles
- Uber controlled fares, disputes and refunds
The ET concluded that it was entitled to look at the reality of the situation, rather than what the contracts between the drivers and Uber stated.
Supreme Court verdict