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Uber loses employee rights case - but what does this mean for UK employment law?

An employment tribunal has given its judgement on the high profile case against Uber, which has been awaited with bated breath by many companies who use freelance hires in the ‘gig economy’.

Written by Kate Benefer, Senior Associate, Royds Withy King

The tribunal has ruled that Uber drivers are ‘workers’ and not ‘self-employed’, this means that Uber drivers will be entitled to:

• 5.6 weeks paid annual leave
• the national minimum wage
• rest breaks
• protection against discrimination and detriment for whistleblowing and other statutory protection.

As workers, the drivers are not entitled to bring a claim for unfair dismissal, redundancy pay and do not have protection under TUPE.

Why has this decision been reached?

In a damning judgment against Uber, the employment judge castigated Uber’s legal submissions, saying that the documents and evidence of Uber did not accord with the reality of the relationship between Uber and the drivers, that Uber is not a ‘platform’ to which interconnected drivers connect ply their individual trades, but is a business in which its drivers are required to do the work ‘personally’ i.e. not substitute someone else to drive on their behalf, and that they were under the operative control of Uber once agreeing to a hire.

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