Aslam, Farrar and Others v Uber 2202551/2015 & Others

Judgment concerning whether the claimants are self employed or employed as workers as they claimed. It was found that the claimants were workers and so due adjusted pay under the National Minimum Wages Regulations

The judgment and full reasons can be found on the Judiciary website here.

Drivers accepted or declined work through the Uber app. The following points are relevant to the question of whether the drivers were workers or not:

* The driver is given the first name, but not the surname, of the passenger; * The driver is not aware of the destination of the passenger until the passenger has been collected; * The driver is expected to follow the route as suggested by the app and any deviance from this route must be justified by the driver; * The calculation of the fare is done by Uber, although the driver can charge a lesser, but not a greater, fare than that suggested; * Deductions can be made to the drivers' payments if passengers complain they have been overcharged; * Drivers have to present themselves and their documents to Uber before being accepted, which amounted to an interview albeit not a searching one; * Drivers supplied their own vehicles and maintained them; * Drivers are not at liberty to exchange contact details with passengers; * Drivers who decline 3 trips in a row are liable to be forcibly logged off the app for 10 minutes; * Drivers can work for other organisations as well as Uber; * Uber does not provide any clothing or uniform.

The ET held that the drivers were limb (b) workers, and also regarded with great scepticism Uber's claim that they were not providing transportation systems but were in fact a technology services provider, saying that "the notion that Uber is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common platform is faintly ridiculous". The main reasons for the decision are as follows:

* No driver was in a position to grow their own business, nor were they provided with any leads; * The supposed driver/passenger contract was pure fiction which bore no relation to the real dealings and relationship between the parties; * It was not real to regard Uber as working for the drivers - the only sensible interpretation was that the relationship was the other way around; *  Drivers provided their work for Uber pursuant to a contractual relationship. The drivers made themselves available to carry Uber passengers to their destinations for reward.

What is interesting is that the ET said that none of their reasoning should be taken as doubting that a model could be devised in which drivers were not employed - it was just that this particular model did not achieve that aim.

Published: 30/10/2016 10:27

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