The Uber appeal against an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruling that its drivers were workers will be heard by the Court of Appeal on the 30th October 2018. In the meantime, the Work and Pensions Committee, chaired by MP Frank Field, has launched an inquiry into why a number of firms have still not recognised staff as workers, despite a series of rulings stating that they are.
The Uber Appeal
The EAT handed down its judgment in Uber BV and others v Aslam and others (2017) on the 10th November 2017, in which it upheld the decision at first instance that Uber drivers are workers. Following that defeat, a spokesperson for Uber stated that: “We have this afternoon requested permission to appeal directly to the supreme court in order that this case can be resolved sooner rather than later.” However, that application was rejected, and Uber then appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Uber appeal will be heard by the Court of Appeal on the 30th October 2018. Yaseen Aslam, the Independent Worker’s Union of Great Britain’s (IWGB) United Private Hire Drivers branch secretary (who is also a Co-Claimant), stated in relation to the Uber appeal that: “Two years after winning our first case for the right to earn the minimum wage and holiday pay, drivers continue to suffer sweatshop conditions and Uber is still fighting us through appeal after appeal. While the government and local transport licensing authorities dither on worker rights, its been left to us alone to hold the line.”
Work And Pensions Committee Launch Inquiry
The Work and Pensions Committee, chaired by Frank Field has launched an inquiry into why a number of firms have still not recognised staff as workers, despite a series of rulings stating that they were. Uber is amongst those firms who have been called to give evidence. In launching the inquiry, Frank Field stated: “The list of companies in the gig economy caught exploiting their workers is growing. Those companies have had it made abundantly clear to them that enough is enough and they need to start respecting the law. A main aim of this inquiry is to find out whether they have then done so, or whether instead they have chosen to stick two fingers up at their workers and the legal system by coming up with another wheeze that gets them off the hook. The inquiry will, I hope, shine a bright light on the extent to which justice is being evaded in the gig economy. Although I very much hope we will also be able to recognise examples in which companies have managed successfully to honour their obligations. Likewise, we will be looking to suggest any immediate changes that are required, both to the law itself as well as its enforcement, to ensure no company is able to evade justice.”
Should the Uber appeal fail, then the pressure upon firms to start recognising staff as workers will be enormous.