The UK supreme court has dismissed Uber’s appeal against the 2016 landmark employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers with access to the minimum wage and paid holidays. The court concluded that the drivers were workers because of Uber’s level of control over them, including setting fares and not informing them of a passenger’s destination until they were picked up. In detail, it based its decision on these five specific points:
• Uber sets the fares for each ride the drivers carry out and the drivers are not permitted to set their own prices as they would if they were self-employed;
• Uber sets the terms and conditions of using its service;
• Drivers face penalties for cancelling or not accepting rides – sometimes preventing them from working;
• Uber has significant control over the way that drivers work, as they face a rating system. If a drivers’ Uber rating falls below a certain level they face penalties or termination of their contract;
• Uber takes active steps to prevent drivers and passengers from having an agreement outside of the Uber app.
The Court ruled that Uber must consider drivers as workers from the time they log on to the app, until they log off. Workers have more rights than independent contractors but fewer than employees, who are entitled to maternity pay and can challenge unfair dismissal, for example. Uber will not be able to appeal against the ruling
In the aftermath of the ruling, Uber carried out a consultation with drivers. According to British trade unions, the questionnaire offers a limited choice of answers on questions about benefits and flexible working without mentioning holiday pay or the national minimum wage – both of which the court found Uber drivers were entitled to. Steve Garelick, a regional organiser for the GMB union, said: “These are loaded questions to get the answer they need.” Uber declared it would share the results of the survey publicly.