Last reviewed 3 June 2020
The Supreme Court is due to hear the next stage in the legal challenge brought by Uber drivers; the company’s final chance to overturn the ruling that they should be classed as “workers”.
The appeal will proceed remotely on 21 and 22 July and, if successful in their case, the Uber drivers could be entitled to an average of £12,000 each in compensation, according to law firm Leigh Day.
Tens of thousands of Uber drivers could then be eligible to make a claim.
Acting for a group of drivers, Leigh Day have argued that they should be provided with paid holiday and receive at least the minimum wage. Currently Uber does not provide drivers with the rights normally given to workers as it claims that they are “partners”.
In 2016, the Employment Tribunal disagreed and said that drivers are “workers” rather than self-employed independent contractors. This ruling was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in November 2017 and the Court of Appeal in December 2018.
If the drivers succeed at the Supreme Court, the case will then return to the Employment Tribunal which will decide how much compensation drivers are entitled to.
Nigel Mackay, a partner in the employment team at Leigh Day, said: “We believe that it’s clear from the way Uber operates that its drivers should be given workers’ rights. From the amount of control it exerts over them, to the ratings system it uses to assess performance. These circumstances all point to Uber drivers being workers.”
Details of the drivers’ claim can be found at https://driversclaim.co.uk.
Comment by Andy Willis, Head of Legal at Croner
Employers should be under no illusion as to how vital this case could potentially be for the gig economy.
If the Supreme Court also agrees that these claimants were “workers”, the floodgates could essentially open for workers throughout the gig economy to bring similar claims.
Although the outcome of any cases that follow will obviously depend upon their specific facts, this ruling from the Supreme Court will set a very clear precedent that tribunals will follow.
It remains to be seen if the Supreme Court will follow the Court of Appeal in upholding previous findings. However, it should be noted that the outcome is not foregone, with the Court of Appeal ruling famously including a dissenting judgment.
To this end, it is impossible to say now what the Supreme Court will conclude, and we must prepare for all outcomes.