Gill Crew looks at GMB v Uber - 28th October 2016

Described as “the Employment case” of the year, centring on the interplay between the gig economy and employment law, the decision is finally out.

In the Uber case, two Uber drivers have claimed that they were in fact workers of Uber and not self-employed contractors. They said that they satisfied the traditional “control” test. Once they have accepted a job they are not notified of the destination, and they face punitive measures if they don't perform well enough, for example, following a customer complaint. They say sums of money are frequently deducted from their pay, often without advance warning.

Uber deny that they were workers and that it simply provides a platform. Uber argues that there are more than 30,000 drivers in London and 40,000 in the UK using its app, and that many do so because they can work flexibly. The firm says drivers, whom they call "partners", can "become their own boss". The firm says it is a technology company that provides an app to put drivers in touch with customers. It doesn't set shifts or minimum hours, or make drivers work exclusively for Uber, it says. It adds that in September UberX (the most basic private car service that Uber has to offer) drivers made £16 an hour on average, after Uber's service fee, and that only 25% logged in for 40 or more hours per week.

The tribunal has found that the Uber drivers are workers and not self-employed drivers. They are therefore entitled to the applicable employment rights of workers, including holiday pay, minimum wage and sickness pay. The decision is likely to appealed.