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Uber U-Turn weeks after Supreme Court Judgment

Those who read my article last month (a link to which can be found at the bottom of this article) will have noted Uber’s stubborn approach following the Supreme Court judgment which determined that Uber drivers were workers, and therefore entitled to increased rights and protections. Uber, having lost at each stage of their arguments stated that the decision only affected the small number of claimants and not every Uber driver in the country. As pointed out last time, they would not have spent vast amounts of money on legal costs to take the matter to the Supreme Court if they genuinely believed that…

Now, Uber has completely changed its position. From 17 March 2021, Uber will:

  • Pay at least the National Living Wage for over-25s, once they have accepted a passenger (and after expenses);
  • Pay holiday on a fortnightly basis, based on 12.07% of their earnings; and
  • Enrol drivers in a pension scheme;

This will be in addition to the insurance benefits covering sickness, maternity and paternity already in place.

On the face of it, this seems like a positive step. However, this is clearly not the be-all and end-all of this matter. The tangible benefits to the drivers may be minimal (and will also not be implemented retroactively for past work). Uber have stated that they will not pay for the time that drivers are waiting in between jobs, nor will they change the current working arrangements for their food-delivery business, Uber Eats. There is more fighting to be done on both these fronts and, whilst Uber Eats may be more akin to the Deliveroo case (the final judgment of which is still outstanding), not paying their drivers whilst they are waiting for a job very much goes against the Supreme Court’s judgment. This found that drivers who were in the right area, with the app switched on and available to work were working (and therefore entitled to minimum wage).

One question will remain outstanding, however: What about workers who are using multiple apps (i.e. Lyft) at the same time? Should more than one company pay the minimum wage for waiting time? It is likely that the Royal Mencap v Tomlinson case on working time may have some relevance and we have been waiting for this judgment for over a year.

Watch this space.

Recommended Reading

The full judgment from the Supreme Court case can be read here.

Our February article discussing the judgment can be found here.

 

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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