22nd February 2021

Julie Taylor, Partner in the Commercial Team at award-winning law firm Gardner Leader responds to the Uber ruling at the Supreme Court.

Julie is an employment law and HR specialist. She helps a variety of organisations manage all their employment law obligation and advises regularly on the terms of settlement agreements for both employers and employees.

“The UK Supreme Court has ruled in support of the workers in a long running battle about employment status and the terms of work with Uber, a huge player in the gig economy.

“Employment status is an important distinction to make, as it has implications on the rights afforded to individuals such as holiday pay,  entitlement to the minimum wage and rest breaks. Similar claims have been brought by Deliveroo workers, currently at the Court of Appeal, however it is easy for the lines to be  blurred and it must be noted that decisions are based on assessment of all the facts rather than generalisation.

“Taking on staff on a “gig” basis is attractive to many companies as it allows them flexibility without the additional financial implications, however the company needs to ensure that the working relationship is genuinely between those in business on their own account and does not become an employment or worker arrangement, which would have additional liabilities.

“Claims were first presented to the Employment Tribunal against Uber in 2016 by a group of workers asserting entitlement to rights as workers rather than accepting that they were operating as self-employed contractors. The ruling today again supports the workers claim and means that they are entitled to holiday pay and the minimum wage.

“The judgment could have huge consequences for Uber, who are likely to have thousands of drivers engaged on the same terms and could face further claims for compensation. It highlights that the courts and tribunals will always examine the reality of the working practices to assess what arrangements apply, not just the written terms of the contract and is a reminder, where it is necessary,  for businesses that worker’s rights cannot be ignored.”