Tribunal tells firm its employees must be given holiday pay, minimum wage and shift breaks
COMPANIES which use bogus self-employment to deny workers their rights were given notice yesterday that the game is up, as multibillion-pound taxi transnational Uber was defeated for a second time at a tribunal.
The employment appeal tribunal in London threw out a claim by Uber that its workers are self-employed and therefore not entitled to rights such as holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and breaks during working shifts.
Uber lost an initial legal clash last year when a London employment tribunal found that drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, along with 17 other workers, were employees of the firm in a case brought by general union GMB.
Rather than accept the decision, the £51 billion San Francisco-based private-hire operator appealed — but has now lost again.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the ruling should “put gig economy employers on notice.”
“Unions will expose nasty schemes that try and cheat workers out of the minimum wage and holiday pay,” she said.
“Sham self-employment exploits people and scams the taxman. Uber, and companies like it, must now stop exploiting its workforce.
“They must immediately implement changes to ensure that workers receive the rights and protections to which they are entitled.”
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: “The next Labour government will support workers with equal employment rights and clamp down on bogus self-employment.”
The two drivers were represented at the appeal tribunal by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Today’s victory is further proof, as if any more was needed, that the law is clear and these companies are simply choosing to deprive workers of their rights.
“These companies are making a mockery of supposed employment rights. The government needs to properly enforce the law and they need to do it now.”
GMB legal director Maria Ludkin said: “This landmark decision is a yet more vindication of GMB’s campaign to ensure drivers are given the rights they are entitled to — and that the public, drivers and passengers are kept safe.”
Uber said it would appeal again.
Earlier this year Transport for London refused to renew Uber’s private hire licence — but over it not reporting crimes, shoddy approach to medical and background checks, and use of software to avoid regulators.
Labour’s London Assembly economy spokeswoman Fiona Twycross said: “It’s not only morally wrong to have drivers denied their rights, but with many feeling they must work long hours, with few breaks, just to get by, it also presents a serious risk to public safety.
“The London Assembly has argued that workers’ rights should be a condition of granting private hire licenses to operators in general and we’ve asked the mayor [Sadiq Khan] to lobby the government on this issue.
“Legislation must be put in place to ensure other operators don’t try their luck in the same way.”