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Uber – Self-Employed Contractors can be Workers

Can a “self-employed contractor” be a “worker”? The simple answer to this, in the recent employment tribunal claim brought against Uber, was yes. Although the drivers engaged by Uber had signed contracts stating that they were self-employed, the reality of the relationship was that the drivers engaged by Uber personally performed work or services for Uber as individuals. This meant that they were “workers” within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The question of whether they were also employees was not considered.

As “workers” they are entitled to a number of rights that you would normally associate with employees - including 5.6 weeks paid annual leave each year; a maximum 48 hour average working week; rest breaks; the national minimum wage (and the new national living wage) and the protection of whistleblowing legislation. However, as they are not employees, they still have no entitlement to claim unfair dismissal; a statutory redundancy payment; the benefit of the implied term of trust and confidence and the protection of TUPE if the business is sold.

It is almost certain that this Tribunal decision will be appealed, potentially as far as the Supreme Court. However, for the time being, if you run a business and have engaged individuals on a self-employed basis, such individuals could be classed as workers (and possibly also employees) and so you should consider reviewing their positions, contracts and taking advice on whether or not they are entitled to workers’ (and employees’) rights.

For more information on Employment Law please contact Alison Gair on or Telephone:0118 912 0300

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