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Uber drivers are workers, says Court of Appeal

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Next stop, the Supreme Court?

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Taxi-hailing giant Uber has lost an appeal against a ruling that its drivers are workers, entitled to employment protections including holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the minimum wage.

The Court of Appeal upheld a decision by The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), which last year sided with drivers Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar, backed by trade union GMB, in their claim for worker status. Uber said it intends to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Noting today’s decision was not unanimous, a spokesperson for Uber said:

“Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed. Drivers who use the Uber app make more than the London Living Wage and want to keep the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive. If drivers were classified as workers they would inevitably lose some of the freedom and flexibility that comes with being their own boss.”

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This is now the third defeat for Uber in this case. As reported by Legal Cheek, the judges who heard the case at first instance (later upheld by the EAT) pointed to the fact that drivers are unable to negotiate with passengers, and are offered and accept trips strictly on Uber’s terms.

Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said: “Uber keep appealing and keep losing. Uber should just accept the verdict and stop trying to find loopholes that deprive people of their hard won rights and hard earned pay. This is the perfect early Christmas present for GMB’s Uber members, but this case is about the wider ‘gig economy’ too.”

Commenting on the case, Polly Jeanneret, an employment law specialist, tells Legal Cheek:

“The status of individuals, whether they are genuinely self-employed, workers or employees is one of the most vexing legal conundrums of our times. As individuals and businesses alike strive for alternative working arrangements and the structure of the modern workplace becomes increasingly imaginative, the law is struggling to keep up.”

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