Ap­peal blow for Uber as court up­holds driv­ers’ rights

App may have to stump up min­i­mum wage and hol­i­day pay in lat­est set­back fol­low­ing TFL clash

The Daily Telegraph - - Business - By James Tit­comb

UBER has failed to over­turn a landmark le­gal judg­ment over driv­ers’ work­ing rights, in a fresh set­back for the com­pany in the UK.

The Em­ploy­ment Ap­peals Tri­bunal ruled yes­ter­day that Uber’s driv­ers qual­ify as work­ers, up­hold­ing a de­ci­sion against the ride-hail­ing app made last year.

It raises the prospect that Uber will have to give its driv­ers rights such as the min­i­mum wage and hol­i­day pay, a move that the firm says could fun­da­men­tally dam­age the way it op­er­ates.

The com­pany, which ar­gues that its driv­ers are self-em­ployed and that it is a mere in­ter­me­di­ary be­tween them and pas­sen­gers, has around 50,000 driv­ers in the UK but its model has been crit­i­cised in some quar­ters.

It had ap­pealed against an Em­ploy­ment Tri­bunal case last year, brought by two for­mer driv­ers, that ruled that the com­plainants were ef­fec­tively work­ing for Uber while the app was switched on, and were not able to make them­selves avail­able to other op­er­a­tors as Uber had claimed.

Jen­nifer Eady, the ap­peal judge, wrote: “The Em­ploy­ment Tri­bunal was en­ti­tled to con­clude there was a con­tract be­tween Uber Lon­don Lim­ited (ULL) and the driv­ers whereby the driv­ers per­son­ally un­der­took work for ULL as part of its busi­ness of pro­vid­ing trans­porta­tion ser­vices to pas­sen­gers in the Lon­don area.”

The de­ci­sion is the lat­est blow for Uber, which was stripped of its Lon­don li­cence in Septem­ber af­ter Trans­port for Lon­don de­clared that it was not a fit and proper op­er­a­tor. It con­tin­ues to op­er­ate in Lon­don while it ap­peals against that de­ci­sion, and is try­ing to re­pair re­la­tions with the trans­port body. Uber driv­ers are paid based on the jour­neys they com­plete, with the app tak­ing a cut of 25pc or 20pc de­pend­ing on when the driver joined. It claims driv­ers earn £15 an hour af­ter Uber’s cut, al­though this is be­fore ex­penses such as fuel.

Uber says the model is the same as the one that has ex­isted in mini­cab firms for decades, and that en­forc­ing the rul­ing would re­quire driv­ers to work in shifts, tak­ing away the flex­i­bil­ity it claims they en­joy.

Tom Elvidge, Uber’s act­ing UK gen­eral man­ager, said it would ap­peal against the judg­ment, ei­ther at the Court of Ap­peal or by es­ca­lat­ing it to the Supreme Court.

“Al­most all taxi and pri­vate hire driv­ers have been self-em­ployed for decades, long be­fore our app ex­isted,” Mr Elvidge said. “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.

“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 even bet­ter.”

Cam­paign­ers cel­e­brated the vic­tory, say­ing Uber was mak­ing “a mock­ery” of work­ers’ rights.

“To­day’s vic­tory is fur­ther proof, as if any more was needed, that the law is clear and these com­pa­nies are sim­ply choos­ing to de­prive work­ers of their rights,” said Ja­son Moyer-lee, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the In­de­pen­dent Work­ers’ Union of Great Bri­tain, which had helped bring the case against the com­pany.

“These com­pa­nies are mak­ing a mock­ery of sup­posed em­ploy­ment rights. The Gov­ern­ment needs to prop­erly en­force the law and they need to do it now.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.