Uber and the difference between the genuinely ‘self-employed’ and workers

Print publication


An Employment Tribunal has ruled that two taxi drivers who provide services to Uber (the taxi app) are ‘workers’ within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996. This means they are entitled to a limited number of employment rights, including:

  • 6 weeks’ paid annual leave each year
  • a maximum 48 hour average working week, and rest breaks
  • the national minimum wage (and the national living wage)
  • the protection of UK whistleblowing legislation.

The Employment Tribunal found them to be workers (and not actual ‘employees’). This means they are not entitled to:-

  • the right to claim unfair dismissal
  • the right to a statutory redundancy payment
  • the benefit of the implied term of trust and confidence
  • the protection of TUPE, if Uber were to sell its business.

For more information on this case and details of why the drivers were found to be workers rather than self-employed individuals please read our recent update.

The Employment Tribunal’s decision (which is likely to be appealed) increases the likelihood of more claims being made for worker status. For example, courier firms CitySprint, Addison Lee, eCourier and Excel are currently being sued by ‘self-employed’ freelance workers claiming worker status and rights.

Delivery company, Deliveroo is facing a formal Union recognition claim by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) if it refuses its riders’ requests for union recognition and employment rights. Deliveroo had previously sought to include clauses in riders’ contracts preventing them from taking the company to an Employment Tribunal. It will come as no surprise to our readers that such a clause is not enforceable!

Employers engaging ‘self-employed’ individuals as a key part of their business model should consider taking advice on how exposed to claims they may be.

If you would like further advice on this topic please contact David Smedley or Andrew Rayment.