Is your Uber driver working for himself - or for Uber?

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Is your Uber driver working for himself - or for Uber?

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You may well have heard news report over the weekend to the effect that the 40,000 or so UK Uber drivers are now, in fact, “employees”.  Not quite – but nearly.

My experience of listening to news reports on issues that I know about (and, occasionally, cases I have been involved with) has prompted me to probe deeper into the news. So, I have now read the full judgment of the Employment Tribunal (all 40 or so pages of it).

In fact, the Tribunal found that the Uber drivers were “workers”. This is not the same as being an “employee” but being a worker does offer really important protections, including paid annual leave, the right to a living wage and protection against working excessive hours.

Although cases on “employment status” such as this are often reversed on appeal (and Uber are likely to appeal), this case is still important.  In its Judgment, the Tribunal peeled back layers of legal wording and found that, in reality, Uber drivers were in a dependent relationship with Uber rather than being “self-employed” and able to look after themselves.

This finding applies to so many working situations I see now; where the reality for many is uncertain dependence on an employer (or “work-provider”).  In fact, an OECD survey rates protection for employees in the UK as one of the lowest in the OECD (only beaten by Canada and the US).

There is now a certain momentum around this issue, with recent government interventions into working practices at Sports Direct, Deliveroo and Hermes and a government review into working practices in these areas.    Post-Brexit, the UK has an opportunity to shape it’s own vision of work in the UK – what will this look like?