After a long running court battle, it’s finally been confirmed that Uber drivers are workers and not contractors. But what does this decision mean for your business?
Now that the Supreme Court has cracked down on the classification of Uber drivers, the ripples of this will be felt in every business that hires casual staff and contractors.
If you operate in the gig economy or work with contracted staff, it’s best to review the employment status of your current workforce and double-check contracts when hiring new staff. Because no matter what both parties sign, you could still be in the wrong.
The Uber case
In the case of Aslam v Uber, the drivers argued that they were workers rather than contractors.
But Uber argued that there was no employment relationship between the company and its drivers – that they were self-employed and using Uber as a ‘payment collection’ and ‘booking agent’.
- So the Supreme Court set out to determine the relationships between the drivers and Uber. The court found that:
Uber allocated trips, set the fees and the routes drivers must take
- Uber restricted communication between the drivers and passengers
- Drivers were required to have either black or silver cars
- Uber imposed sanctions for drivers that had refused jobs or had poor ratings
- Uber dictated the contractual terms to the drivers who had no say in them
Due to the substantial control Uber exercised over its drivers, the court decided that they were workers rather than contractors.
This means that the drivers are entitled to benefits like holiday pay and protection from discrimination.
What does this mean for you?
Now that the Supreme Court has cracked down on employment status for Uber, this topic has gained a lot of press.
All organisations are under more pressure than ever to get employment status right to protect lower paid workers and steer clear of bad publicity. Organisations that wrongly assess employment status also risk claims from individuals who may argue that they are actually workers or employees and entitled to additional protections and benefits.
This is why we recommend assessing your current workforce arrangements to ensure that they accurately reflect the realities of your working relationships.
Many employers rely on independent contractors in their day-to-day business when in reality, these people should be classified as workers or employees.
This case has made it clear that no matter what documents the individual signs, the reality of your working relationship is what the courts will focus on.
The Supreme Court’s decision is already in effect, so it’s important to fully understand employment statuses to ensure that you are correctly classifying your staff and giving them the benefits they deserve.
But the law can be vague and hard to interpret – hence why so many cases like this have made it to the courts.
Here’s a simple breakdown: at one end of the scale is the contractor. They’re often self-employed and running their own business. At the other end sits the employee. These people work exclusively for you, and you exercise control over how they work. Sitting between these two is the worker.
- Workers gain some of the freedom of a contractor and some of the benefits of an employee. These include:
National Minimum Wage
- Protection against unlawful deductions from wages
- Paid holiday
- Rest breaks
- The right to choose whether to work more than 48 hours a week
- Protection against unlawful discrimination
- Protection for whistleblowing
- The right to not be treated less favourably if they work part-time
- Statutory sick, maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay (subject to qualifying conditions)
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