Uber loses landmark employment tribunal

Uber drivers have won what was described as a “monumental victory” to have the right to employee benefits including the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay.
Drivers at the multinational firm, which has disrupted the way taxi services work, won tribunal action to be classified as workers instead of self-employed.
The ruling means they will legally be entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the National Minimum Wage.
Union bosses at GMB said this was a “monumental victory” for the 40,000 drivers across England and Wales.
However Uber has already indicated that it will be appealing what it sees as an unfair ruling.
The firm, which is headquartered in San Francisco said it did not need to pay drivers in the same way as workers because they were self employed rather than being its workers.
This new ruling could now have major implications for other similar companies, including delivery drivers.
The GMB’s legal director Maria Ludkin said this could lead to better deals for “thousands more in other industries where bogus self-employment is rife.”
However, Jo Bertram, Uber’s UK manager pointed out that this ruling only currently affects the two people who brought the tribunal action, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam.
The pair said that because their everyday working actions were in the control of Uber, that meant they were employed by the company, even though they weren’t being given the basic workers’ rights they should have been entitled to. Mr Farrar said his net earnings in August 2015, after taking expenses into account were just £5.03 an hour, while Mr Aslam is no longer an Uber driver.
However, Mr Bertram said that most people chose to drive with Uber because they wanted to be their own boss, rather than being employed.
He added: “The overwhelming majority of drivers who use the Uber app want to keep the freedom and flexibility of being able to drive when and where they want.”
Nigel Mackay from the legal company Leigh Day, which acted on behalf of the two drivers, said the judgement recognised the key role Uber drivers played in the success of the company.
He said the case would impact not just all of Uber’s drivers in the UK, but also workers in what he described as the “gig economy”.
It is feared that Uber may now look to simply increase the percentage of each fare which it keeps as its commission in order to offset extra costs.