Uber case ‘could have big implications for the gig economy’

Gig Economy


Uber drivers have won their case to be considered as workers rather than self employed, meaning they have a right to holidays, paid rest breaks and the National Living Wage.

The ruling by the London employment tribunal, which Uber will appeal, has been hailed by the GMB union who supported the two Uber drivers at the centre of it as a”monumental victory”.

Uber has around 40,000 drivers in England and Wales. The case has huge implications for others in the gig economy, with the drivers arguing that they were essentially workers rather than self employed since Uber controlled their actions.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This case has exposed the dark side of so-called ‘flexible’ labour. For many workers the gig economy is a rigged economy, where bosses can get out of paying the minimum wage and providing basics like paid holidays and rest breaks.

“What is happening at Uber is just the tip of the iceberg. Lots of people are now trapped in insecure jobs, with low pay and no voice at work. We need the government to get tough on sham self-employment.”

Tim Goodwin, associate solicitor at Winckworth Sherwood, said: “This judgment is likely to have massive implications across the ‘gig economy’, as we see an increasing number of start-up businesses effectively adopting Uber’s model.  The effect of this judgment is that those kinds of business may owe a lot more to their workers, such as paid holiday and minimum wage, than they had bargained for.  This outcome should be taken as a salutary lesson by businesses who try to arbitrarily ‘classify’ workers as contractors to avoid affording them their full rights as workers.”

“Nevertheless, it would be foolhardy to rely on this outcome too heavily.  This is a first instance decision, and one of immense importance, so we should expect to see it fought out again in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, or even the higher appeal courts.  Employment status has also become the focus of a Parliamentary Inquiry, launched earlier this week, so we should expect to hear a lot more about this going forward, and potentially some legislative changes.”

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