Uber BV and others v Aslam and others [2021] UKSC 5

Appeal against an ET decision (upheld by the EAT and Court of Appeal) that Uber drivers were workers for the purposes of employment legislation and therefore entitled to be paid the minimum wage, to receive holiday pay and to benefit from other protections. Appeal dismissed.

The claimants are former drivers for Uber and its associated companies. In the ET the judge had found that they were workers, broadly as they were not in control of setting fares and were subject to various forms of control through the Uber app. That decision was upheld by the EAT at [Uber B.V. & Ors v Aslam & Ors ]()UKEAT/0056/17/DA and at the Court of Appeal [Uber B.V. & Ors v Aslam & Ors]() [2018] EWCA Civ 2748. Uber appealed to the Supreme Court.

The appeal was dismissed. As on the facts there was no written contract between the drivers and Uber London, the nature of their legal relationship had to be inferred from the parties' conduct and there was no factual basis for asserting that Uber London acted as an agent for drivers. The correct inference was that Uber London contracts with passengers and engages drivers to carry out bookings for it. In any event, it is wrong in principle to treat the written agreements as a starting point in deciding whether an individual is a "worker". The correct approach is to consider the purpose of the relevant employment legislation. That purpose is to give protection to vulnerable individuals who have little or no say over their pay and working conditions because they are in a subordinate and dependent position in relation to a person or organisation which exercises control over their work. The legislation also precludes employers, frequently in a stronger bargaining position, from contracting out of these protections.


Published: 19/02/2021 10:38

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