Uber – Self employed v worker status?

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Uber – Self employed or worker status?

Uber has appeared in a London Employment Tribunal after two of its drivers challenged their employment status with the company. The challenge relates to Uber’s classification of much of its workforce as self-employed. The two drivers are arguing that they are in fact ‘workers’. This classification would grant the drivers certain employment rights not afforded to self-employed contractors such as the right to minimum wage, holiday and pensions auto-enrolment.

How the employment relationship is labelled is not decisive of its real legal status. The actual status of an individual is determined by a test taking into account a number of factors. The key elements of an employment relationship are personal service, mutuality of obligation and control. The focus is on the power of deciding the thing to be done, the way in which it shall be done, the means to be employed in doing it, and the time when and the place where it shall be done.

Successful claims against Uber are likely to open the floodgates to similar claims against other companies that categorise their workforce as self-employed. Apparently 15% of the UK workforce is categorised as self-employed.

Businesses should carefully consider all aspects of the working relationship. The starting point is always the written contractual arrangement but day-to-day arrangements will also be relevant, and sometimes the determining factor.