DRIVERS for controversial taxi firm Uber must be treated as workers rather than self-employed, a tribunal has ruled.
The company lost its appeal against a ruling last year over the distinction and plans to appeal the latest ruling over its operation in the UK – maintaining it would take the case to the Court of Appeal, and if necessary the Supreme Court.
Drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam won their case last year when a tribunal ruled they were Uber staff and entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks, and the minimum wage.
Uber appealed and argued its drivers were self employed and were under no obligation to use its booking app; the company maintained 80% of its drivers would rather be classed as self employed.
Uber has up to 40,000 drivers registered to it in London alone, where the company is also fighting to retain its licence and stay on the road.
The Employment Tribunal upheld its original decision that any Uber driver who had the Uber app switched on was working for the company under a “worker” contract, and they were therefore entitled to workers’ rights.
James Farrar, from Hampshire, told the BBC how he was feeling: “Just huge relief. I really hope it will stick this time and that Uber will obey the ruling of the court.
“I’d like Uber to sit down and work out how as quickly as possible that every driver who is working for Uber get the rights they are entitled to.”
The GMB union said the ruling, by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, was a “landmark victory” for workers’ rights, especially in the gig economy, a system of casual working which does not commit a business or a worker to set hours or rights.
Tom Elvidge, Uber UK’s acting general manager, said: “Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed.
“The main reason why drivers use Uber is because they value the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive and so we intend to appeal.”