The decision of the EAT in the recent Uber case to uphold the original decision of the Employment Tribunal that Uber’s drivers are “workers” for employment law purposes, quite rightly attracted a lot of publicity. However, given the direction of the courts in these worker status cases and the gig economy, it is perhaps not that surprising.
There have been a steady stream of cases, with more in the pipeline, looking at the gig economy and whether those working within it have entitlement to any employment rights. As well as Uber, we have seen cases involving City Sprint, Addison Lee and Pimlico Plumbers and Deliveroo. So far, the decisions to date have all been one way and firmly in favour of the individuals bringing the claims. We have seen the tribunals and courts, more than prepared to look behind what have often been very legalistic agreements between the individuals and the entity to which they provide their services. Looking at the reality of the situation and applying long standing case law, we have seen findings of worker status meaning a right to certain basic employment rights such as holiday pay and the National Minimum Wage.
Uber have already announced they intend to appeal the latest decision and given the impact on their business model, I would expect them to take this all the way to the Supreme Court. They are likely to be joined by others who have been on the receiving end of these cases.
The current state of the cases, does reinforce the work of the Taylor Review and the “Good Work” report that was published over the Summer. That report looked at, amongst other matters, the gig economy and how legal concepts such as employee and worker could be applied to this new way of working. It is clear from that report, that the benefits, such as flexibility, that apply to those working in the gig economy, will mean that we will not see a dramatic overhaul of employment law. However, the recommendation that the tests for worker and employee should be codified so that the test is clearer are likely to be welcomed by all sides. Also of practical assistance would be the recommendation for expedited hearings at the tribunal to consider these issues so disputes as to status are resolved quickly.
The Taylor Report is now the subject of review by the Government with any changes likely to be the subject of consultation before implementation. While the outcome of this is awaited, we can still expect the stream of cases looking at worker status to continue with the stakes high for both sides. For any business operating in the gig economy, they should review the way they operate and interact with those who provide services to it, in order to avoid finding themselves in Uber position.
If you would like any further information on how these changes and the Taylor Review will impact on your business, please contact Matt Jenkin on 01628 470011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.