18 January 2019
In the latest in a string of high profile cases on the status of gig economy workers, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling of the Employment Appeal Tribunal that Uber drivers are workers, not self-employed.
It's no secret that the world of work is changing rapidly and that the law is struggling to catch up with the realities of the evolving job market. With statute failing to answer all the questions, employment tribunals and the courts regularly have to consider the issue of employment status of individuals working in new and disruptive business models.
The Court of Appeal has upheld the decision of the EAT and London central employment tribunal that Uber drivers are workers, not self-employed contractors. Two of the judges found that Uber exerted a high degree of control over drivers, entitling them to the status of worker. They also supported the view that having the Uber app switched on and being ready to work was enough to constitute working.
In a dissenting judgment, Lord Justice Underhill equated the relationship between Uber and its drivers to that of a standard minicab company – a business model where drivers are considered to be self-employed. He said that while Uber's technology was much more sophisticated, the position taken by the company was neither unrealistic nor artificial. He went on to say that giving gig economy workers greater protection required statutory intervention.
The outcome in this case has been hotly anticipated as there remains a lack of clarity on the status of gig economy workers. It's not over yet though as Uber has been given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. Read more about this case and its implications here.