The Future of Mobile

Appeals judges rule against Uber in landmark employment status case

Tyrone Stewart

Uber app handUber has once again lost an appeal against the decision that its drivers should be considered as workers rather than self-employed. This time round, it was the UK’s Court of Appeal which upheld the initial 2016 decision.

The original case, which was brought by Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, saw the UK Employment Tribunal decide that Uber’s drivers should be considered as employees and, with that, should be entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks, and the minimum wage. In November 2017, the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the decision of the Employment Tribunal.

In the latest development, the Court of Appeal has agreed with the two previous decisions – with two of the three judges siding with the claimants. This majority decision was reached on the basis that though drivers are free switch on the app when they like, and have some element of freedom when it comes to accepting trips, Uber can disconnect drivers who refuse too many offers. Thus, drivers are available to ‘work’ while the app is on.

“I'm delighted with today’s ruling, but frustrated that the process has dragged on for over three years,” said co-lead claimant Aslam. “It cannot be left to precarious workers like us to bring companies like Uber to account and despite the personal price we have had to pay, we are the lucky ones. We know of many that are under such hardship, that it would be unimaginable for them to take a multi-billion-pound company to court. It is now time for the government and the Mayor of London to act and stop letting companies like Uber take them for a ride.”

Uber has been given permission by the Court of Appeal to lodge a final appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court. It is understood that the ride-hailing firm intends to make use of this permission and bring the case to the Supreme Court.

“I am delighted today’s ruling brings us closer to the ending Uber’s abuse of precarious workers made possible by tactics of contract trickery, psychological manipulation and old-fashioned bullying,” said fellow co-lead claimant Farrar. “However, I am dismayed that implementation of worker status for drivers is further delayed while Uber seeks yet another appeal. This is nothing more than a cynical ploy to delay inevitable changes to its business model while it pursues a record breaking $120 billion stock market flotation. It’s time for Uber to come clean with all its stakeholders and abide by the decision of the courts.”