Cab hire firm faces court battle over drivers’ employment status

BHS | HR Solutions

The cab hire company Uber, is facing a legal challenge by some of its drivers who are claiming that they should have worker employment status and dispute Uber’s claims that they are in fact self-employed. The drivers are also accusing the company of acting illegally by not providing holiday and sick pay and does not pay the minimum wage.

Workers have the same rights to employees which includes entitlements to holiday pay, protection from unlawful pay deductions and also sick pay.

However, Uber is arguing that the drivers are self-employed and it is up to the drivers how frequently they work.

Lawyers acting for the drivers, claim that the terms and conditions of their work with Uber means that they are not self-employed and should be eligible to receive a variety of employee benefits.

Uber allows people to book and pay for a taxi through a smartphone app. Users pay Uber for the journey, and then the company passes on a percentage to the driver.

The drivers are also claiming that Uber has acted illegally by deducting money from drivers’ pay for customer complaints. Uber say that this is a rare occurrence and would only relate to certain issues such as the driver had taken an unnecessary long route.

Annie Powell, solicitor at the law firm Leigh Day who are representing the drivers, said: “Uber is arguing that it is a technology company and that it does not provide a transport service to customers, it just puts them in touch with drivers.”

Ms Powell added that if the drivers were successful with their case, other companies might be faced with similar claims. There was a “creeping erosion of employment rights as companies misclassify their workers as self-employed”, she said, blaming new technology for making it easier for businesses to have more of a remote relationship with their workers. “This has changed how work looks and might give rise to the argument that people are not employees.”

Jo Bertram, the regional general manager for Uber UK, said: “The main reason people choose to partner with Uber is so they can become their own boss, pick their own hours and work completely flexibly. Many partner-drivers have left other lines of work and chosen to partner with Uber for this very reason.”

If a ruling goes in favour of the drivers, there could be many more Uber drivers coming forward with similar cases. A ruling on this case is not expected for several weeks.

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