Tuesday 30 October 2018 3:02 pm

Uber returns to court to fight ruling that defines drivers as employees


Uber took its fight against a tribunal ruling that judged that drivers are employed by the ride-hailing app to the Court of Appeal today.  

The business relationship between Uber and drivers is “typical of the private hire industry", a court heard this morning, as the company attempts to overturn the 2016 employment tribunal finding. 

Uber, which claims its drivers are self-employed, is appealing the tribunal's decision that declared that workers are employed by the company and are therefore entitled to minimum wage and holiday pay.

The US company claims that it acts as an agent to connect drivers, which it describes as "independent contractors", to customers.

“Many mini-cab companies operate a business model under which drivers are self-employed, own their own cars, and bear the risk of their own expenses,” said Dinah Rose QC.

“The drivers use the minicab firm as their agent to book their trips with passengers and pay commission to the mini cab firm for that services.

“Uber is unusual not because of the nature of these relationships, but because the Uber App enables it to operate on a much larger scale than traditional mini-cab companies.”

Speaking ahead of today's hearing, Leigh Day partner Nigel Mackay, representing 82 Uber drivers, said: “The employment tribunal made clear and well-reasoned findings, backed-up by the evidence produced at the tribunal, including Uber’s own description of itself in publicity material as ‘a transportation network’ and ‘Everyone’s Private Driver’.

“It is very disappointing that Uber refuses to accept the employment tribunal’s judgment and instead continues to deny the GMB members that we represent their fundamental workers’ rights, including to be paid at least the national minimum wage and to receive paid time off. These are not unreasonable demands.

"This appeal is of great significance not only to Uber drivers but also to millions of other workers in the gig economy and we hope that this can now bring this matter to a conclusion for the benefit of all workers.”