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Uber v Aslam – Uber Drivers are Workers


On 19 February 2021, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Uber v Aslam case, rejecting the Appellant’s (Uber) appeal and upholding the decision that Uber drivers are workers for the purpose of rights under the Employment Rights Act 1996, the Working Time Regulations 1998 and the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.

The Supreme Court stated that it is important to consider the relationship between both parties and therefore not be bound by what documentation states, in this case the written agreement.  It was emphasised that consideration should be given to the purpose of the legislation in protecting vulnerable individuals who are dependent on a person or organisation who has control over their work.  The Supreme Court concluded it was correct for the tribunal to find that Uber drivers are not self-employed subcontractors but are workers.

Uber’s argument was that it was merely providing a private hire vehicle service via the use of its app.  Uber stated that they only act as an agent between the driver and passengers and that drivers control when they are available to accept bookings and drivers use their own cars.

The Supreme Court stated the following five points that led to its decision:-

  1. Uber determines the rate of pay that the drivers receive.
  2. Uber dictates the contract terms to their drivers.
  3. Once a driver is logged into the Uber app, Uber limits drivers’ ability to choose when they work.
  4. The way the service is delivered is controlled by Uber.
  5. Drivers are unable to communicate with passengers as Uber restricts this.

The Supreme Court therefore found that from the time drivers switch on their app they are classed as workers and are able to take breaks during the day.

The significance of the ruling means that Uber drivers are entitled to the minimum wage (a primary reason for the matter proceeding to the Courts).  Uber drivers are entitled to the minimum wage for the entire day and not just for the time they have passengers in their car.  They are also entitled to claim for the minimum wage back-dated, up to £25,000 and there is a suggestion that a claim in an employment tribunal could go back two years but further clarification on this point is needed.  Uber drivers are also entitled to make a claim in the County Court which could go back as far as six years of underpayment.

Uber drivers are now entitled to statutory annual leave equating to 5.6 weeks’ paid leave and have whistleblowing rights and further rights available to workers.

For advice on this, or any other employment matter, contact the employment team on 01905 723 561 or email: Guy.salter@smesolicitors.co.uk or Sonia.ali@smesolicitors.co.uk

Added: 04 Mar 2021 09:55


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