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Court of Appeal rules Uber drivers are workers, not self-employed

Uber has lost its second appeal against a ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers rather than self-employed.

In 2016, a tribunal ruled that Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam were workers of the company and should be entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the minimum wage. Uber went on to appeal, arguing that their drivers were under no obligation to use the app and therefore were self-employed.

The court of appeal upheld the previous Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal rulings that Uber had unlawfully treated the drivers as independent contractors.

The high-profile case concentrated on whether the drivers were classed as ‘workers’ when they had the app switched on and were able to accept work. The Court of Appeal agreed that if Uber drivers were available to accept passengers, this amounted to ‘work’.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) believes the court’s decision will put additional pressure on Uber to abide by UK employment law, and force the government to ensure employment law in the gig economy.

However, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPDE) argued that the government must introduce a statutory definition of ‘self-employment’ for any future confusion.

IPSE’s deputy director of policy, Andrew Chamberlain, concluded:

“The fact is most people in self-employment and the gig economy enjoy their flexibility and are happy with their status.

What this latest twist in the Uber saga does show, however, is just how complex this area is, and how much it takes to prove who is and isn’t self-employed.”

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