April 18, 2021

Volume XI, Number 108


April 16, 2021

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"Uber drivers are workers" says UK Supreme Court

This morning, 19 February 2021, the UK Supreme Court handed down judgment on the case of Uber v Aslam [2021] UKSC 5.

In a unanimous, landmark decision, the Supreme Court agreed that Uber drivers were “workers”, not self-employed contractors, for the purposes of UK employment law. Worker status entitles drivers to (amongst other things) 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave per year and sick pay and, crucially, to be paid at least the statutory minimum wage (which can be backdated).

The Supreme Court further clarified that Uber drivers are entitled to be paid minimum wage for the entirety of the period that they are logged into the app and are ready and willing to accept trips, and not just during the periods that they are driving passengers to their destinations.

The Court emphasised that what is important is the reality of the relationship between the parties, and noted the following:

  • Uber sets the fare for its drivers’ journeys, thereby dictating how much drivers are paid for their work;
  • Uber imposes its own contractual terms on drivers who wish to work through the app;
  • drivers’ choices about whether to accept ride requests are constrained by Uber;
  • Uber exercises significant control over the way in which drivers deliver their services; and
  • Uber restricts communications between its passengers and drivers.

The impact of this decision, to Uber, its drivers and the gig economy at large, cannot be understated. Going forward, and barring legislative intervention, Uber and other businesses operating in the platform or gig economy will need to fundamentally reassess both their labour relationships and the viability of their business models in light of this morning’s judgment. How Parliament and businesses choose to respond is sure to have significant and far-reaching consequences for the shape and future of the UK economy.

© 2021 Vedder PriceNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 54



About this Author

Jonathan Maude Labor and Employment Law Attorney Vedder Price Law Firm

Jonathan Maude is a Partner at Vedder Price and a member of the Labor and Employment group in the firm’s London office.

Mr. Maude is an experienced and well-respected practitioner working in labor and employment law. He regularly advises across the full spectrum of employment law-related issues in the contentious and noncontentious spheres with a particular emphasis on advising corporate clients on complex strategic human resource-related matters.

Jonathan Maude's practice can be broadly broken down into the two areas...

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Esther Langdon, Employment, LItigation, Attorney, Vedder Price Law FIrm

Esther Langdon is an Associate in the Labor and Employment group in the firm's London office.

Ms. Langdon advises clients on all aspects of employment law, with a particular emphasis on contentious matters before the Employment Tribunal and the High Court. She also advises on the full range of personnel matters, including day-to-day human resources support, disciplinary and grievance issues, reorganizations, restructuring and redundancies.

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Daniel Stander Labor & Employment Attorney Vedder Price London, UK

Daniel Stander is an Associate at Vedder Price and a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment group in the London office.

Mr. Stander has experience in dealing with non-contentious and contentious matters for both employers and senior executives. In particular, he has experience in the following areas: day to day UK and international employment and multi-jurisdictional HR issues including unfair dismissal, discrimination and whistleblowing claims, and advising on, preparing and negotiating settlement agreements. Mr. Stander has a particular interest in mental health issues and...

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