Uber drivers’ legal challenge proceeds to Supreme Court

By agency reporter
May 31, 2020

The Supreme Court is due to hear the next stage in the legal challenge brought by Uber drivers who are fighting to be classed as ‘workers’. The appeal will proceed remotely on 21 and 22 July 2020. After this, Uber will have exhausted all avenues of appeal.
 
If successful in their case, the Uber drivers could be entitled to an average of £12,000 each in compensation, according to law firm Leigh Day who believe tens of thousands of Uber drivers could be eligible to make a claim. Uber will only be legally required to compensate those who have brought a claim.
 
Legal action is being brought by the Uber drivers, represented by law firm Leigh Day, who argue that Uber should provide its drivers with paid holiday and ensure they are paid at least the minimum wage.
 
Currently Uber does not provide drivers with the rights normally given to workers, instead claiming drivers are ‘partners’. However, the Employment Tribunal in 2016 found that drivers are ‘workers’ rather than self-employed independent contractors. The ruling was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in November 2017 and the Court of Appeal in December 2018. However, Uber further appealed to the Supreme Court.
 
If the drivers succeed at the Supreme Court, the case will then return to the Employment Tribunal which will decide how much compensation drivers are entitled to.
 
A London-based Uber driver, called Mike to protect his identity, said: “Being an Uber driver can be really stressful. Driving itself is easy but with high consequences if you make a mistake. Of course, there are perks to working for Uber. I started working for them to help me out when I was having trouble financially. Uber was a lifeline, but I worked hard for it. Dealing with Uber can be difficult. They can ban you from driving for them at the drop of a hat and there’s no appeal process. It’s only fair that we have the same rights as any other workers.”
 
Nigel Mackay, a partner in the employment team at Leigh Day, said: “Uber is soon going to reach the end of the road in its fight to stop its drivers being given workers’ rights. If Uber loses, it will have no other option but to compensate those drivers who have brought claims for failures to provide holiday pay and where the company has paid them below the minimum wage.
 
“Now more than ever we have seen how difficult it can be for Uber drivers, many of whom have put themselves at risk by continuing to drive during the lockdown for those who need them for essential journeys. Yet Uber continues to deny its drivers basic workers’ rights. We believe that it’s clear from the way Uber operates that its drivers should be given workers’ rights. From the amount of control it exerts over them, to the ratings system is uses to assess performance. These circumstances all point to Uber drivers being workers.”

* Leigh Day https://www.leighday.co.uk/

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