The Uber Case

The case Aslam v Uber was widely reported in 2016 as it considered the employment status of Uber taxi drivers at a central London employment tribunal.

The employment tribunal found that Uber drivers were workers rather than self-employed individuals under the Employment Rights Act 1996. This means that the workers were entitled to workers’ rights, such as the national living wage, holiday pay and sick pay.

This decision will affect thousands of Uber drivers as well as other organisations operating in the ‘gig economy’. The ruling may have huge implications to smaller organisations that cannot afford the financial obligations of employing workers. Consequently, it is a reminder to all organisations of the importance of employees, workers and self-employed people being engaged correctly.

The decision is likely to be appealed, which will take place later this year.

There is no clear legal test for defining whether an individual is an employee, worker or self-employed contractor, which has caused much confusion for employers and individuals. This is important as employment rights, such as the right to redundancy payments and the right to not be unfairly dismissed, are only applied to employees. Additionally, workers are being increasingly given employment rights including holiday pay and the national minimum wage. Whereas, self-employed contractors are not eligible to receive any employment rights.

It is suggested that all organisations are careful when defining the employment relationship with an individual to ensure they are categorised correctly to avoid expensive risks in the future.

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