An employment tribunal has confirmed that Uber drivers are workers and therefore entitled to the National Minimum Wage for all hours when they are available to accept work. Uber had drawn up complicated documentation with a view to drivers being treated as customers of Uber, who paid Uber for leads supplied to them. The tribunal did not accept that argument.
The case illustrates the folly of attempting to draw up documentation to avoid employment status where that documentation does not reflect the reality. If you have any questions about employment status, please give us a call. If you want some bedtime reading, here’s the judgement. (If you can’t be bothered to read it all, paragraph 87 is entertaining!)
Paul Roberts, head of the Employment Law Department at Keelys LLP, took part in a recent discussion about employment law with Amanda Milling MP.
Paul has specialised in employment law since 1999 and explained that, since then, most significant employment legislation (such as the Working Time Regulations and the ban on discrimination on grounds or religion, sexual orientation and age) has come from the EU. As a result, UK governments have been left tinkering around the edges, often amending processes for enforcing rights rather than rights themselves. For example, employment tribunal fees have been introduced which have led to the volume of employment tribunal claims dropping by 70%. Another contentious issue is employment status, ie. the extent to which atypical staff such as zero hours workers and Uber drivers are protected by employment law. Following Brexit the UK government may have a lot more power to change employment law, but Paul’s view was that we are unlikely to see many changes. Theresa May herself has said that “existing workers’ legal rights will continue to be guaranteed in law – and they will be guaranteed as long as I am PM”.
Amanda is the MP for Cannock Chase. She sits on the Select Committee for Business (who recently grilled Philip Green) and is also part of a Parliamentary Working Group reviewing employment law. Amanda confirmed that she, and her colleagues on the Select Committee, will continue to scrutinise zero hours contracts and innovative working arrangements. She said that she wants to try to avoid tying businesses in knots but agreed with Paul that, even post Brexit, the government are unlikely to rein back employment rights which arose from EU legislation.
Local businesses then had an opportunity to raise their concerns which included increases in the National Living Wage, being swamped by multiple grievances from the same employee and the challenge of keeping up with changes to employment law. It was a thought provoking discussion. Thanks to Brian Carruthers of Tempest Ford for hosting it.