The rise of the taxi app Uber has seen it become a household name since it began seven years ago.
The firm allows users to book and pay for a cab through a smartphone app and is used by around two million Londoners with the service now available in several other major cities in the UK.
But the firm is currently embroiled in an employment tribunal with two of its drivers who are disputing their self-employed status. They say they are employees and therefore deserve the appropriate rights such as sick pay and holiday pay.
Julia Fitzsimmons, a Partner in the employment team at FBC Manby Bowdler, examines the issues:
“The employment tribunal needs to decide whether the drivers are genuinely self-employed, in which case they can fix their own rates of pay, or whether they are employed by Uber and therefore entitled to earn the national minimum wage and get other benefits such as paid holiday.
“Uber’s case is that drivers are their own boss, pick their own hours and work completely flexibly therefore making them self-employed. It says it is a technology company rather than a transport provider.
“But the GMB union, which has brought the test case on behalf of two drivers, highlights the facts that the drivers have to perform the driving jobs themselves and can be penalised for poor performance means they are not running their own businesses – they effectively work for Uber.
“If the tribunal decides the drivers are employees it could have far reaching consequences and not just for Uber, their fare prices and their passengers. It highlights the need for all companies to look at the terms in which individuals provide services to them and review their agreements with these people to ensure they are truly self-employed.”
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