As many RMIF members will be aware, there have been some recent high profile cases around employment status in the “gig economy”.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal previously held that Uber drivers would properly be regarded as “workers”, not self-employed contractors as Uber had claimed. This was appealed to the Court of Appeal.
In a decision on the 19th December (Uber B.V. and ors v Aslam and ors) the Court of Appeal upheld the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision and held by a majority (not unanimous) that the drivers are indeed workers.
The central question, as far as the Court of Appeal was concerned as regard workers status, was whether (as the drivers argued) Uber contracts directly with the passengers to provide driving services which the drivers perform with it or (in the alternative) whether as (Uber argued) it acts only as intermediary, providing a booking and payment service and the drivers drive the passengers as independent contractors.
Although the written contractual terms state the latter, i.e. Uber’s position, the majority of the Court of Appeal held the written terms did not reflect the practical reality of the relationship and therefore held them to be workers (thereby entitled to a range of statutory rights, payments and protections not available to the self-employed).
Due to the importance of the case, the Court of Appeal has however given permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, so this may not yet be the end of the story.
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