Uber faces another crunch test in London after Licence row with TfL, this time workers rights in "gig economy" employment tribunal appeal

Lynsey Barber
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Uber's appeal against an employment tribunal decision will be heard this week (Source: Getty)

Uber is facing a fresh test in London amid its high profile fight with regulators as it kicks off an appeal in a separate case.

The ride-hailing firm will return to court on Wednesday where an appeal against a landmark legal ruling will be heard.

Read more: Uber challengers are waiting months for a licence to launch in London

Two drivers who previously worked for Uber were deemed workers and not self-employed, thus entitled to minimum wage, holiday and sick pay, during an employment tribunal last year which was the first big case involving the rights of workers in the gig economy.

It has paved the way for further cases involving other businesses, including Deliveroo, Addison Lee, City Sprint and Pimlico Plumbers.

The Uber case is the first to put such decisions to the test by reaching appeal stage, and comes just days after Transport for London said it will not renew its licence to operate in the capital, a decision the multi-billion pound startup also plans to appeal.

“Just last week TfL expressed concern regarding Uber, quoting 'potential public safety and security implications,' said Paul Jennings and Rachel Mathieson of Bates Wells Braithwaite, the lawyers representing the Uber drivers.

"The case advanced on behalf of the drivers raises equally important issues concerning health and safety."

“Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades before our app existed,” an Uber spokesperson said.

"With Uber drivers have more control and are totally free to choose if, when and where they drive with no shifts or minimum hours. The overwhelming majority of drivers say they want to keep the freedom of being their own boss.”

A fresh poll by Orb of 1,000 Uber on behalf of the firm found nine in 10 were very or somewhat satisfied and 80 per cent said thy wanted to remain an independent contractor.

And 88 per cent agreed that Uber had “improved things for drivers” over the past 12 months. It has made several concessions when it comes to driver support in recent months, including discounted cover for injury and illness as well as features that reduce waiting times.

The hearing follows a separate ruling this week involving drivers and Uber rival Addison Lee. An employment tribunal on Monday found drivers for the firm should be considered workers and are not self-employed.

Read more: Uber CEO writes to Londoners saying sorry "we got things wrong"

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