Uber ruling will make the face of employment fairer

The ruling will have implications for companies delivering takeaways to providing cleaners to couriering court documents [Image: Alamy].

The ruling will have implications for companies delivering takeaways to providing cleaners to couriering court documents [Image: Alamy].

The overturning of the ‘Uber’ business model is undoubtedly a huge achievement – more so because it comes in the middle of a Conservative Parliament in which the government couldn’t care less about conditions of work.

The implications are enormous for any firm that has operated on a model that demands that de facto employees define themselves as self-employed – suddenly they have the same basic rights as people who are defined as employees.

Will firms change their business models? There’s no reason not to. Uber is worth more than $62 billion so it won’t affect the firm’s profit margins overly.

It all depends how greedy and short-sighted their bosses turn out to be.

Yaseen Aslam. James Farrar. Remember those two names, because they are giant-killers. This summer the men took on not just one £50bn multinational, but an entire business model. On Friday, they won.

As minicab drivers for Uber, Aslam and Farrar were deemed to be self-employed. The status meant they were denied the most basic rights that other workers take: no minimum wage, no sick pay, no paid holiday. But as an employment tribunal judge heard over several days in July, that classification was both wrong and unfair. And he agreed.

The obvious thing to say about Anthony Snelson’s ruling is that it is huge. It poses an existential threat to Uber in Britain. It will also send shockwaves through a string of companies using the same business model to do everything from delivering takeaways to providing cleaners to couriering court documents.

Most of all, it is a massive boost for all of us who want a fairer jobs market – and a big slap in the face for the government. For most of the past six years, ministers have turned a blind eye to the growth in bogus self-employment, zero-hours contracts and Sports Direct-style agency work.

Uber confirmed that it will appeal against the decision, and you can expect this case to keep the courts busy for a few months. Other businesses that have copied the Uber model will be watching anxiously. And so will their workers.

Source: Uber ruling is a massive boost for a fairer jobs market | Technology | The Guardian

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7 thoughts on “Uber ruling will make the face of employment fairer

  1. Kenneth Billis

    Back in the early 80s I worked for a wholesale newsagency. They took on one individual on self-employed terms because he did a small amount of work for a couple of other companies. After assessing his situation the Inland Revenue deemed that to all intents and purposes he was actually an employee of the newsagency and that they would treat his income from it as net of tax and national insurance. This meant, of course, that the newsagency would be liable for his tax and national insurance. The Revenue would not entertain any argument over the matter so I imagine the newsagency renegotiated his terms of employment and that was that.

    If my memory serves me correctly, back then the Inland Revenue took quite a firm line on accepting self-employed status. I suppose Uber is yet another example of the unregulated free-for-all that has been infecting this country for the last thirty or forty years?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Yes indeed – another commenter has said the exchange rate has signified an effective 20 per cent cut in UK wages. That’s going to hurt us somewhere down the line.

  2. Brian

    Anthony Snelson’s ruling is entirely correct, having applied the ‘Duck’ test, it quacks. Uber took a chance, seeing bigger profits they diversified into the service industry from the core product, software. Now, they have unwittingly opened the floodgates in favour of workers throughout the UK. They must be hated in the industry just now, as an avalanche of claims is processed by the courts for future and retrospective entitlements. The lesson here is well known, don’t serve duck without the orange.

  3. Zippi

    The government has deemed actors fully self employed. As a result, actors are now responsible for paying their own National Insurance. Historically, actors have fallen in between the cracks and Schedule D was applied to them, because they don’t fit, neatly, into either category. They are employed under contracts of service, the minimum terms of which are set by collective agreement with the Union. They do not sent their own rates of pay, or hours of work, choose what to wear, when to take breaks etc. Subsequent to the change, the “employers” have not changed the benefits, such as holiday entitlement, sickness and maternity/ paternity pay and other things that were negotiated into the agreement. I am curious about how this ruling might affect the financial status of those who work in entertainment.

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