Uber drivers are workers
In 2016, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam argued in the Employment Tribunal that Uber drivers should be classed as workers (not as self-employed, contrary to Uber’s model), primarily because of the high level of control the company had over them whilst they were working.
The Employment Tribunal found in the drivers’ favour and Uber appealed this to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. In November 2017 the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the Employment Tribunal’s decision.
Fast-forward to December 2018: the case was heard in the Court of Appeal which also supported the decision originally reached by the Employment Tribunal. Accordingly, Uber decided to issue a final appeal to the Supreme Court. That appeal was held on 21 and 22 July 2020.
Today the Supreme Court’s decision has been handed down and this confirms that Uber drivers are in fact workers.
This means they have statutory rights including (amongst others) entitlement to statutory minimum wage; 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave per year; and whistleblowing protection. Drivers will also be allowed to claim back pay in respect of any historic underpayment of national minimum wage entitlement (for up to 2 years’ backpay in the Employment Tribunal, or up to 6 years’ backpay in the County Court).
It is important to note that the Supreme Court decision does not mean that Uber drivers can be considered to be employees. Therefore, they still do not have the benefit of (for example) the right to statutory redundancy payments or the right not to be unfairly dismissed.
The Supreme Court is the UK’s highest court of appeal so the decision it has reached today is final and no further appeal can be filed.