Hot off the press: Uber and employment status

Uber and Employment Status

A long running legal battle has finally come to an end today in the case of Uber BV and others v Aslam and others. In this landmark case, the UK’s Supreme Court have ruled that Uber must treat its drivers as workers, not self-employed individuals. The decision will no doubt have a knock-on effect on the rest of the gig economy going forward.

There are 3 distinct types of employment status:

  • Employee
  • Worker
  • Self-Employed

Uber had argued that its drivers were self-employed. If an individual is genuinely self-employed, they do not enjoy the usual employment rights, such as the right to not be unfairly dismissed, or an entitlement to holiday pay or the National Minimum Wage. They do have protection for their health and safety and in certain circumstances, against discrimination.

The Uber drivers had argued that they were workers. Worker status was created by statute and is a hybrid between an employee and self-employed. A worker has certain employment rights including, but not limited to:

  • The right to be paid National Minimum Wage
  • Protection against whistleblowing
  • Protection against discrimination
  • Protection against an unlawful deduction of wages
  • An entitlement to holiday pay

Why is the Uber case so important?

The Supreme Court has ruled that Uber must treat its drivers as workers, rather than self-employed. This means its drivers now have enhanced rights, such as an entitlement to be paid National Minimum Wage and holiday pay. For years, Uber had treated its drivers as self-employed, meaning that Uber drivers were not always earning the National Minimum Wage and were not paid when they took a period of annual leave.

For individuals working in the gig economy, the Uber case will have far reaching consequences for similar models, in respect of employment status. It remains to be seen whether other similar organisations will also pay a hefty price for treating individuals as self-employed rather than workers and what changes this decision may bring about in terms of working practices going forward.

Following the decision, it is expected that Uber will change their business model and be subject to VAT on fares. Uber previously argued it was a booking agent, however they are now likely to be classed as a transport provider.

Should you require advice in relation to employment status, we can provide the same via our Ask HR scheme. Amongst other things, the scheme provides for free advice as and when required (available 365 days a year), the drafting of bespoke contracts and handbooks to ensure legal compliance and updates in respect of legislative changes. Further, we provide access to our new innovative digital HR Portal, HR Genie, at no extra cost.

For further advice, please contact Lianne Payne, Head of Employment at Askews Legal, via email at

Some content taken from the BBC news pages, you can read the full article here: