Are Uber drivers properly regarded as 'workers' or self-employed contractors?
They are workers, held the majority of the Court of Appeal in Uber BV v Aslam & ors (upholding the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal).
The essential question as regards worker status was whether, as the drivers argued, Uber contracts with the passengers to provide driving services, which the drivers perform for it; or whether, as Uber argued, it acts only as an intermediary, providing booking and payment services, and the drivers drive the passengers as independent contractors. The written contractual terms say the latter; but the majority hold that they do not reflect the practical reality of the relationships and can therefore be disregarded in accordance with the principle established in Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher.
Lord Justice Underhill, dissenting, would have held that there was no inconsistency between the written terms and the working arrangements: those arrangements were not essentially different from those commonly applying where taxi and minicab owner-drivers are booked through an intermediary.
The majority also held that drivers are under a positive obligation to be available for work while the app is on, and that that amounts to “work” for the purpose of the Regulations. Lord Justice Underhill would have held that drivers should only be treated as working from the moment that they accept a particular trip.
The Court of Appeal has given Uber permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.