15 January 2019

Driving focus on employment law

We may not have access to the car-by-phone platform in northern Lincolnshire but local employers should note its ongoing legal battle, which has far-reaching consequences.

As we examine likely employment law issues in 2019, we must shine a spotlight on the latest in a case that Uber has so far refused to let go, and what it means for regional firms relying on the gig economy.

In December the Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that Uber drivers are ‘workers’ and should receive certain entitlements. This is the third legal defeat for Uber with the court agreeing with previous judgements that the drivers are not self-employed individuals.

The high-profile case centres on whether the drivers are ‘workers’ when the ride-hailing app is switched on and they are ready to accept work. So far, the courts have ruled they are and therefore entitled to certain rights such as holiday pay. As workers can claim holiday pay going back a substantial period, this can amount to significant sums.

Uber has been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court and we await news, however, whatever this ruling, businesses should review their working arrangements.

This is one of a series of cases determining worker status, with the courts becoming increasingly willing to hold that individuals are workers and calling someone a ‘contractor’, ‘subbie’ or ‘self-employed individual’ will not change that. The courts are not concerned with labels or intentions and a business could have to pay holiday back-pay, even though it has paid an enhanced hourly rate to the so-called contractor.

For advice on this ‘grey’ area or any areas of employment law, please contact Katie Davies a Partner within the employment team at Wilkin Chapman solicitors: Katie.Davies@wilkinchapman.co.uk

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