Uber Drivers Are Employees

Simon Mitchell

The employment appeal for ride sharing app Uber started on 6th November. The Supreme Court need to decide if users of the app are in fact employees, rather than self-employed. If they are employees then they would be entitled to sick pay, holiday pay and minimum wage. Until 2016 drivers, or partners as Uber call them, operated on a self-employed basis and paid commission to the technology giant. In most cases drivers can pay up to 25% from each ride. Some drivers claim that this leaves them with less than minimum wage. Uber deny this and claim that most drivers earn above £10 per hour.

In 2016 Uber lost their case against two drivers who claimed their pay was as little as £5.03 per hour. They also stated that Uber control these drivers and therefore they should be treated as employees. The Employment Tribunal found in favour of the employees. Uber appealed the decision immediately.

Currently drivers operate from the App. They can start their shift at any time, take time off when they like and even take another job. This can help drivers to be more flexible. Drivers then get time to spend with their families, make and keep appointments and decide their working hours. This is a business model for many UK companies including Amazon and MyHermes. Staff that work with these firms enjoy the flexibility that this includes.

What is the future?

If the decision goes against Uber this could result in many companies changing their business model. It would also have financial implications for these companies. They would need to comply with employment law as we know it. This includes paying the national minimum wage, which is currently £7.83, but will rise to £8.21 in April 2019, paying sick pay, holiday pay, maternity pay, pension contributions and they would be obliged to provide an employment contract to their staff. This could also have implications for their hours which could then remove the flexibility most partners enjoy.

What could this mean for the consumer?

If this appeal is lost, we could see an increase in our fares for trips to the airport, shops or work.  Many drivers could lose their jobs and small taxi firms could go out of business.

Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic can offer free legal advice on all employment issues. Please call 01782 294800 for an appointment.

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