international employment law firm alliance L&E Global
United Kingdom

UK: Employment status: Uber drivers are workers

The claimants were drivers for Uber. They had to establish that they were workers to bring claims for NMW, holiday pay and whistleblowing protection. The contractual documentation indicated they were self-employed and contracted directly with passengers, while Uber acted as the intermediary and just provided booking and payment services.

The Court of Appeal confirmed the employment tribunal was entitled to look beyond the documentation if that did not reflect the true working arrangement. In reality, Uber was not working ‘for’ the drivers – it was running a transportation business and the drivers were providing the skilled labour. The Court’s decision also took account of the fact that Uber:

  • fixed the fares
  • instructed the drivers how to carry out their work
  • controlled key information about passengers which the drivers did not have access to

A majority of the Court of Appeal also found that, for NMW and working time purposes, the drivers were working when they were within their territory, logged onto the Uber app and ready and willing to accept work.

This decision confirms that when assessing employment status, it is necessary to establish whether the documentation reflects how the relationship works in practice.
One judge (out of three) decided this case differently – that:

  • it was not clear that the working arrangements were any different from what the contract provided
  • drivers should only be treated as working when they accept a particular trip

Uber was granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court so these issues are likely to be debated further.

Uber BV v Aslam & others