Uber is appealing against the recent employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be given worker status.
Uber’s taxi app business model has been based on treating drivers as self-employed contractors. Classing the drivers as workers would change this significantly. It would mean drivers would be entitled to the minimum wage, sick pay and paid holidays.
The decision to appeal the ruling was expected but ‘really disappointing’, according to reports, as drivers now have to continue to campaign for worker status.
Jo Bertram, Uber’s UK general manager, told the Guardian that the drivers pushing to be classified as employees are in the minority.
“Tens of thousands of people in London drive with Uber precisely because they want to be self-employed and their own boss,” said Bertram. “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.”
Meanwhile, law firm Leigh Day has announced that a further group of 25 drivers has joined the legal action it is bringing with the GMB union against Uber.
According to the law firm this now takes the current number of workers claiming against the California-based company to 50.
The announcement follows the ruling in the London Central Employment Tribunal in October, which found that a group of Uber drivers were not self-employed but were workers and therefore entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay, a landmark ruling which affects tens of thousands of Uber drivers.
According to Nigel MacKay the lawyer representing the claimants, from the employment law team at Leigh Day, the recognition of the drivers as workers does not prevent them from working flexibly, Mr MacKay says:
“The judgment at the Employment Tribunal does not prevent Uber drivers from working flexibly, it simply ensures that whilst they are working the drivers receive the rights that every other worker is entitled to.
“Since the judgment was issued, we and GMB have spoken to hundreds of Uber drivers who wish to claim compensation for Uber’s failure to provide these entitlements in the past, as well as to ensure that they are paid at least the national minimum wage and holiday pay in future.
“We are issuing claims on behalf of those drivers and the latest 25 claimants who have joined the legal action will be included in claims for compensation. We anticipate issuing further claims on behalf of drivers in the coming weeks.”
The law firm predicts the potential number of claimants could be thousands of drivers who can claim for the money and benefits they have not received as workers for Uber.