An Employment Tribunal has, this afternoon, ruled that two drivers who provide services to gig economy stalwart Uber are 'workers' within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
This means they will be entitled to a limited number of employment rights (but not those accruing to 'employees' - which this case was not about). Amongst other rights, they will be entitled to:-
- 5.6 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)
- protection of the whistleblowing legislation.
As they are not employees, they will not be entitled to:-
- the ability 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 sells its business
Of course, it is virtually certain that this tribunal decision will be appealed up and up, potentially to the Supreme Court. So, for now:-
1. any Uber drivers should bring tribunal claims on the assumption they are 'workers', and ask for the hearings to be stayed (put on hold) pending any appeals of today's decision
2. although this decision is fact-specific, and based on Uber's business model, it increases the chance of other 'gig economy' companies facing claims that their 'contractors' have worker status. Watch this space.