Those who are up to speed with modern linguistics will have noted a new verb coming into common parlance: ‘to uber’. The well known Uber business, a “gig economy”, is a 21st century approach to taxi services, but what is the status of those who drive us home after that Friday night drink?

Delegates who attended our Employment Law Seminar will remember that, during our ‘bad employers’ debate, the recent case focusing on the employment status of Uber drivers was flagged as one to watch.

The ET has today handed down its much anticipated decision following the preliminary hearing, finding that two claimants were indeed workers for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The main issue focused on whether the drivers were indeed workers, or self-employed as asserted by Uber.  The implications of this decision are wide reaching, given that, as workers, drivers will be entitled to various rights including holiday pay, the national minimum wage and protection under whistleblowing legislation.

It is notable that the ET was not looking at the issue of whether drivers were ’employees’, so there are still rights to which drivers will not be privy, for example protection from unfair dismissal and protection under TUPE.

This decision will undoubtedly be appealed by Uber, as the ramifications have the potential to be extremely costly if this decision stands.

Watch this space!

Please click here to download the decision.

This article was written by Employment Law Barrister Naomi Owen, please click here to view Naomi’s profile.