An employment solicitor at one of the City of London’s most prominent independent law firms has said that the launch of a tribunal case against Uber may set a precedent for future claims.
Donna Martin, a member of Mackrell Turner Garrett’s employment team has said that the case posed important questions about the classification of workers and the self-employed.
Two Uber drivers are taking the company to a London Employment Tribunal over claims that the company is acting unlawfully by not providing holiday and sick pay.
The well-known online cab service argues that the two drivers are self-employed and not workers and are therefore not afforded the same employment rights.
“We are seeing a rise in the number of individuals providing their services on a ‘self-employed’ basis, with the line between self-employed and worker becoming increasingly blurred,” said Donna.
“It therefore comes as no surprise that several Uber drivers have taken the company to an Employment Tribunal over the lawfulness of non-payment of holiday and sick pay on the basis that they are workers. It has always been Uber’s case that their drivers are ‘partners’ and therefore not entitled to the same basic employment rights as ‘workers’.”
She said that under the current rules, if an individual that is expected to personally perform work or services is under a degree of control from the other party to the contract and there is mutuality of obligation between the parties, the individual will be deemed a worker.
For an individual to be genuinely self-employed they must, among other things, determine their own working days and hours, provide their own equipment, be free to provide services to other companies and be able to provide a substitute or subcontract the required work to another party.
She said: “Much will turn on the facts of the case including the contractual and actual relationship between Uber and the drivers – a crucial element will be the degree of control Uber exercises over their drivers.
“If it is proven that the drivers are expected to perform their services personally and that Uber has day-to-day control over them, there is a possibility that they will be deemed to be workers.
“There are already 17 other Uber drivers who have initiated proceedings; if the test case finds that they are workers the floodgates will open and claims may not just be limited to Uber drivers, but will extend to those who have been miss-classified as self-employed.”
If you are concerned about the impact the case could have on your business or you require advice about your own employment rights, please call 020 7240 0521.