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Uber Loses Appeal In Key Gig Economy Case

Case Could Now Go To Supreme Court

19.12.2018

David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

Uber’s appeal that its drivers should be treated as self-employed rather than workers has today been rejected by the Court of Appeal.

This decision is the latest development in a legal battle between Uber and its drivers. 

James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, two Uber drivers, argued that their working relationship with Uber classified them as workers and not as self-employed contractors. 

In 2016, a tribunal ruled that the drivers were employed by Uber and entitled to receive holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the minimum wage.

Since then Uber have appealed the decision and most recently took the case to the Court of Appeal earlier this year. The decision, which was given today, wasn’t unanimous though and Uber says it intends to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Court accepted that the contractual documentation between Uber and its drivers did not reflect the reality of their relationship and could therefore be disregarded. It said there was “high degree of fiction” in the contract wording and the tribunal was right to look beyond the “convoluted, complex and artificial contractual arrangements … no doubt formulated by a battery of lawyers, unilaterally drawn up and dictated to tens of thousands of drivers and passengers, not one of whom is in a position to correct or otherwise resist the contractual language.”

It also agreed with the tribunal that the drivers were working from the moment they logged onto the App and were available for work rather than simply from the moment they accepted a trip.

Expert Opinion
“Ascertaining the status of an individual is not always easy. The law has been interpreted in numerous cases, but the courts have not yet devised a single test that will conclusively point to the distinction in all cases and this case does not really move that forward.

“The courts will consider a number of factors including whether the individual has to undertake work personally, as the drivers did here, and how much control is exercised by the employer. Uber restricted the car type and models its drivers could use, required them to accept a minimum number of trips and issued warnings and log off penalties to those who didn’t comply. Drivers with poor customer scores were deactivated and drivers couldn’t exchange their details with customers. This amounted to a huge amount of control and made a nonsense of the contractual documents drivers had to sign if they wanted to work for Uber.”
Shah Qureshi, Partner