Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Uber Drivers

A Supreme Court ruling handed down Friday, 19th February could pave the way for thousands of Uber drivers to have access to holiday pay and be assured minimum wage.

The decision is the result of a case originally brought by Yaseen Aslam, James Farrar and dozens of other former Uber drivers in 2016. The plaintiffs first prevailed an employment tribunal in October 2016, but Uber has since appealed that judgment three times. The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the ruling in November 2017, and the Court of Appeal followed suit in December 2018 ahead of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling.

During the case’s lifespan, Uber has argued that it is a booking agent and that its drivers are self-employed contractors. As such, the company denied being obligated to provide various benefits required of employers in the UK. In addition, Uber is not currently classified as a transport provider, and therefore is not paying 20 per cent value added tax on fares. It is possible that Friday’s ruling could affect that status going forward, but it remains to be seen if Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs will change Uber’s classification.

While the decision will have an immediate impact on only a handful of former drivers, it sets a precedent that could affect thousands more. Legal experts have expressed differing opinions on whether the judgment will automatically apply to all Uber drivers, or if others will have to bring their own tribunals. Uber has stated that it is of the opinion that the ruling should only affect a small number of drivers because the company since changed the way its business operates. The case could also potentially have wide-reaching effects on the gig economy.

The Supreme Court also ruled that Uber must treat drivers as employees throughout any time that they are logged on to the app. This means that drivers will be considered to be working while waiting for passengers, as opposed to only being treated as such while providing transport with a customer physically inside their vehicle.

Friday’s decision should be considered final, but the case will now return to an employment tribunal for a decision on how the original claimants will be compensated.

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