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Latest Court of Appeal ruling in the series of cases brought by gig economy workers

In the latest ruling in a series of cases brought by gig economy workers in an effort to clarify legal status, the Court of Appeal has ruled that Uber drivers should be considered workers rather than independent contractors, upholding previous decisions by the Employment Tribunal in 2016 and the EAT in November 2017. Uber has said it will appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Uber’s argument that it is merely an agent, connecting drivers with passengers, finding in favour of the drivers who argued that Uber contracts with the passengers to provide driving services, which the drivers perform.

The decision would entitle Uber drivers to sick pay, holiday pay and maternity leave, and follows the ruling in favour of drivers working for ride-hailing app Addison Lee, saying that they should be treated as employees under current employment law.

GMB's general secretary Tim Roache welcomed the judgment saying "employers are on notice that they can't just run roughshod over working people to put more on the bottom line for shareholders."

Uber meanwhile suggests that the model of its partners being self employed brings flexibility and freedom. An Uber spokesperson said that "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” and that "almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed.”

Uber are said to be encouraged that one of the appeal judges said that Uber's argument was "neither unrealistic nor artificial", but in accordance with a well-recognised business model in the private hire car industry.

2019 is likely to bring more cases and hopefully more certainty to employers, workers and freelancers alike who want to take advantage of the opportunities that technology offers to move away from traditional working practices.

Posted on 9 January, 2019 by Ortolan

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