Supreme Court Rejects Uber’s Appeal
UPDATE – 5 December
The Supreme Court today rejected Uber’s appeal. Uber will now have to appeal it’s case to the Court of Appeal; a situation Uber had tried to avoid by appealing to the UK’s highest court.
“Today’s decision is another blow to Uber’s legal strategy behind denying workers their rights”, said Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee in an email statement to Reuters.
The Court of Appeal will be the third court to hear Uber’s case. No date is set for the hearing leaving Uber’s future up in the air.
UPDATE – 24 November
In what should be no surprise, Uber filed an appeal directly to the Supreme Court—bypassing the Court of Appeal—asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Employment Appeal Tribunal decision.
No date is set for the hearing.
Uber’s denied appeal today of the 28 October Employment Tribunal could have far-reaching effects for employers throughout the European Union.
The 28 October decision relied on worker’s claims that Uber coerced them into long work hours, required them to accept 80% of fare requests, and they often earned as little as £5 per hour (far below the £7.20 minimum wage for workers over 25).
Judges ridiculed Uber’s claims that it was not an employer. “The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our minds faintly ridiculous. Drivers do not and cannot negotiate with passengers.” Judge Anthony Snelson said. “They are offered and accept trips strictly on Uber’s terms.”
Similar Gig Worker Cases
Just before the 28 October Uber ruling, minicab service Addison Lee lost a similar employment tribunal. Addison Lee was found to have incorrectly classed workers as drivers.
But ride-sharing companies are not alone in facing claims from so-called gig workers. Four courier firms are also facing charges of misclassifying employees as gig workers. A report from Citizens Advice suggests as many as 460,000 people may be incorrectly considered independent workers, costing the Government up to £314M each year in lost tax and national insurance contributions.
MPs launched an inquiry in mid-October into the status of casual workers focusing on how misclassification of workers as self-employed impacts tax, benefits and employment law. The review will also consider how to protect these workers.
Maria Ludkin, Legal Director at GMB, who brought the Uber driver’s claim to tribunal, said: “GMB puts employers on notice that we are reviewing similar contracts masquerading as bogus self-employment, particularly prevalent in the so-called ‘gig economy’. This is old-fashioned exploitation under new-fangled jargon, but the law will force you to pay GMB members what they are rightfully due.”
Worker classification is at the forefront of the news and casual workers may feel emboldened to challenge their work status. Employers are cautioned to carefully review any agency or casual workers and consider whether they are, in fact, employees.