Uber drivers could be entitled to an average of £12,000 each in compensation in the claim for worker status. Here, Nigel Mackay, a partner in the employment team, explains why Leigh Day is bringing legal action.
It’s not too much for anyone who goes to work to expect their employer to treat them fairly. For people with employed status who are classed as workers this includes ensuring they are paid at least minimum or living wage and providing them with paid holiday.
But for Uber drivers working in the UK this doesn’t currently happen.
So why is it that the San Francisco-based company doesn’t provide its drivers with these basic entitlements?
According to Uber, its drivers don’t work for the company. Instead, its business model is built on treating drivers as ‘partners’ who link up with passengers to provide car rides using the Uber app.
In other words, Uber considers its drivers as self-employed independent contractors and, by this definition, they are not classified as workers and therefore not entitled to the same rights as other workers.
Ultimately, we believe it is clear from the way that Uber operates, including exerting substantial control over the way its drivers work and the ratings system it uses to assess performance, that it’s drivers should be classed as workers and should therefore be given the rights that this status affords.
We’re not the only ones who think this. The Employment Tribunal agreed that our clients are workers. Judges also dismissed Uber’s appeal against this landmark employment tribunal ruling the Employment Appeal Tribunal in November 2017 and the Court of Appeal in December 2018.
However, Uber has refused to accept these rulings and has appealed to the Supreme Court. The case will now be heard remotely by the Supreme Court on 21 and 22 July 2020.
Uber is soon going to reach the end of the road in its fight to stop its drivers being given workers’ rights. After the Supreme Court hearing the taxi-hailing company will have exhausted all avenues of appeal.
If the drivers are once again successful, which we are confident they will be, the case will return to the Employment Tribunal which will determine how much compensation drivers are entitled to.
We believe tens of thousands of Uber drivers could be entitled to an average of £12,000 each in compensation. Importantly, however, Uber will legally only be required to compensate those drivers who bring a claim.
For many Uber drivers a big perk is the flexibility being an Uber driver allows and with the transportation company previously claiming that, if Uber drivers were classed as workers, it could end the flexibility of the job, some drivers might be nervous about joining the claim.
However, there is no legal reason why this needs to be the case. Many jobs involve ‘casual’ working arrangements where workers have flexible hours but still receive paid holiday and are paid more than the minimum wage. There is nothing in the law that says Uber drivers need to be different.
Drivers in other countries have won or settled similar claims against Uber. As far as we are aware, Uber has not introduced fixed hours in those countries and the drivers can still log on and log off when they please.
Now more than ever we have seen how difficult it can be for gig economy workers. Uber drivers aren’t asking for the earth. Just the same rights other workers are entitled to.
We think that’s a cause worth championing, and we’ll continue to do all we can to make sure they get the compensation they deserve. If you have driven for Uber in the last 10 weeks or currently have an active Uber driving account, you could be eligible to up to £12,000 in compensation. Click here to join the claim.