England: Court of Appeal rules that Uber drivers are workers, not contractors

Royal Courts of JusticeThe Court of Appeal has ruled that Uber drivers should be considered workers, with the right to a guaranteed minimum wage and holiday pay, in a major blow to the gig economy company.

The court upheld the previous Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal rulings that Uber had unlawfully classified drivers as independent contractors.

The two lead claimants, Yaseen Aslem and James Farrar, are being backed by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which mostly organises migrant and gig economy workers. The union organised the UK’s first nationwide strike of Uber drivers last month.

The lead claimants are being represented by solicitors Paul Jennings and Rachel Mathieson from Bates Wells Braithwaite, and barristers Jason Galbraith-Marten QC and Sheryn Omeri.

There are also additional claimants in the case backed by the trade union GMB and represented by solicitors from Leigh Day and barrister Tom Linden QC.

The IWGB said the court’s decision would put further pressure on Uber to abide by UK employment law, and on the UK government to enforce employment law in the gig economy.

Mr Aslam, secretary of the IWGB’s United Private Hire Drivers branch, said: “I’m delighted with today ruling, but frustrated that the process has dragged on for over three years. It cannot be left to precarious workers like us to bring companies like Uber to account and despite the personal price we have had to pay, we are the lucky ones. We know of many that are under such hardship, that it would be unimaginable for them to take a multi-billion pound company to court.

“It is now time for the government and the Mayor of London to act and stop letting companies like Uber take them for a ride.”

Mr Farrar, chair of the branch, said he was “dismayed that implementation of worker status for drivers is further delayed while Uber seeks yet another appeal”.

He said: “This is nothing more than a cynical ploy to delay inevitable changes to its business model while it pursues a record breaking $120 billion stock market flotation. It’s time for Uber to come clean with all its stakeholders and abide by the decision of the courts.”