30 Dec Uber tries THIRD court in bid to not pay drivers employment benefits
After failing once again to win its case in court regarding workers’ rights, Uber will take its gig economy battle to the Supreme Court.
Earlier this month the Court of Appeal upheld a 2016 decision ruling that Uber drivers were not self employed but regular workers who qualify for for basic rights such as the minimum wage, holiday and sick pay.
Uber had argued that the employment contract existed between the driver and the passenger rather than the company which, it said, just acted as an intermediary providing the facilities for booking and taking payment.
However when a driver has the Uber app switched on, they cannot use another app meaning they can only get jobs via Uber’s software.
The San Francisco-based company, whose UK subsidiary pays tax in the Netherlands rather than to the UK Treasury, said the decision did not reflect why drivers use the app.
“Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed. Drivers who use the Uber app make more than the London Living Wage and want to keep the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive,” said a spokesman.
“If drivers were classified as workers they would inevitably lose some of the freedom and flexibility that comes with being their own boss.”
One of those ‘freedoms’ includes drivers being able to undercut local firms by 20 per cent by not charging VAT.
The original 2016 ruling that Uber drivers were workers was made by the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal after two drivers brought a case against them. They were represented by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain.
Mr Farrar, co-lead claimant on the case, said he was “delighted” by the court’s decision but was disappointed that the changes would be delayed until it is heard by the Supreme Court.
“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,” he said.
December has been a tough month for the company, which faced a backlash from drivers in the US after it changed its pay structure ahead of a planned listing in 2019.
Drivers in San Francisco and San Diego, where the change was implemented in the last two weeks, say that their earnings have fallen as a result of changes to how their pay is calculated”
But earlier this year, a report from Oxford University found that drivers make £11 an hour after costs such as fuel and licensing, while working an average of 30 hours a week.
Fareed Baloch from Zoom.taxi said Uber “are apparently utterly determined not to view the people who work for them as employees despite the fact they have used business practises to create monopolies and their presence has driven existing companies out of business.
“Having a single company dominate the market is bad news for passengers and drivers who are then totally controlled by whatever terms Uber wish to impose and we can see from the way in which they treat their drivers that they are only interested in making as much money as possible rather than in being a responsible employer and provider of important services in the community.
“But it is not just a case of waiting for another court decision: passengers can vote with their feet by choosing local companies whilst these companies can make sure they offer the sorts of technology and flexibility that makes people hail an Uber in the first place.
“The Zoom app offers this and more – along with a six week free trial for new customers.”