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The Supreme Court has made a landmark decision in the “ UBER “ case. 

By way of background, Uber has always regarded its taxi drivers as running their own self-employed businesses and so doesn’t provide them with any employment rights such as holiday pay, national minimum wage. 

This was challenged by several drivers who sought to argue before the employment tribunal that they were really “workers” and not self-employed. The employment tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal all ruled in their favour, so Uber appealed to the Supreme Court, which has now agreed with the lower courts. This means Uber drivers are now entitled to a range of basic employment rights that come with worker status. 

In reaching its decision the Supreme Court emphasised that the determination of worker status under employment legislation is a question of statutory interpretation, not one of contractual interpretation, and therefore it’s wrong to treat the written contractual terms as a starting point. 

So, of course the contract is important but what will actually matter is the true nature of the relationship between employer and the individual regardless of the wording of the contract. The greater the control an employer exercises over working arrangements and the more the individual is dependent on the employer, the stronger the case will be for classifying them as a worker. 

The ruling could also have a marked effect on the wider gig economy, paving the way for similar claims that could come from online tutors, supply teachers or freelancers. 

If you need any employment advice please contact our employment team or Julie directly at Julie.leonard@edwardsandcompany.co.uk.

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