Self-employed, worker or employee – what are your rights?

Year Published: 2018

There has been a further decision in Uber’s ongoing battle regarding the status of its staff. Unsurprisingly, the Court of Appeal has held that Uber drivers are workers and have dismissed Uber’s appeal. This is now the third consecutive decision that has not been in Uber’s favour.

The outcome of this ongoing legal process is of crucial importance to not only Uber but other companies with similar business models as it requires them to recognise these types of individuals as workers. This will entitle them to various employment rights such as holiday pay, paid rest breaks, minimum wage and collective bargaining.

However, Uber do not accept the decision and have stated they intend to challenge at the Supreme Court due to the fact that out of the 3 Judges, one backed Uber’s case on the basis that its argument was “neither unrealistic nor artificial” but in accordance with a well-recognised business model in the private hire car industry.

How will this affect businesses?

It is clear from this decision that the law will continue to look to protect workers’ rights and therefore businesses should review their working arrangements with individuals they perceive to be “self-employed” as, depending on the circumstances, they may be found to be workers and therefore be granted relevant employment rights.

What is the current position?

It can be difficult in some circumstances to make a definitive decision as to an individual’s status (self-employed, worker or employee), but the ruling by the Court of Appeal does not change the current tests that Tribunals use to make their decision; such as control, existence of a contract between the parties and if the person is obliged to undertake the work provided, to name but a few.

It is also important to note that just because a business has a contract with the individual which states that they are self-employed, this does not mean that a Tribunal will agree. Tribunals will look behind any contract that is in place to understand the actual working relationship. This can be seen in the Uber case, where the Court found there was a “high degree of fiction” in the wording of the agreement between Uber and its drivers (which stated they were self-employed).

What happens next?

Whilst Uber have appealed to the Supreme Court, there is a strong possibility that the previous decisions by the Tribunal and Court of Appeal will be upheld. Whilst Uber have chosen not to implement any of the Tribunal findings during the appeal process, this has resulted in Uber drivers going on strike. Therefore businesses should consider carefully as to whether they want to wait for the Supreme Court decision before implementing any changes as this could result in Employment Tribunal claims being submitted by staff who believe they are workers based on the current decision.

For more information on employment rights or any other employment law and HR matter, please contact Katie Hodson on 0161 475 7670

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