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Workers – Dec 2016

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Uber Drivers are Workers

An Employment Tribunal has held that Uber drivers are workers. Uber tried to claim that it was simply a technology platform that puts drivers in touch with passengers and that it is in no way a provider of taxi drivers. The Employment Tribunal decided that the contract between Uber and the drivers was a sham and did not reflect reality and therefore the contract was disregarded.  A number of Uber drivers brought claims for unlawful deductions from wages (through an alleged failure to pay the national minimum wage) and for a failure to provide paid leave.

The test which identifies three components in order to determine worker status under that section is as follows:

  • There must be a contract.
  • There must be personal service.
  • The question must be asked, what is the business or professional relationship between the putative worker and employer? More particularly: does the individual have a profession or a business undertaking; and, if yes, can the putative employer be characterised as a client or customer of the profession or business undertaking?

An individual who does not meet the worker test as per above (and who is not an employee) is often described as genuinely self-employed. However in this case, the Employment Tribunal decided that the test was satisfied and hence the taxi drivers are workers. This means that Uber will have a substantial compensation payment to make to all of its taxi drivers. Uber is appealing the decision.

What does this mean for you?

The fact that the Uber claimants have won their case does not mean that cases brought by others will have the same success as each case will depend on the specific terms and arrangements between the individual and the company/business they work for.

However, it does alert us to the fact that dental practice owners need to be vigilant and ensure that the associate agreements reflect the situation and to ensure that both the contract and the relationship between the owner and the associates has as many self-employed indicators as possible, such as the right to locum/substitute.

We would advise you take this opportunity to review the current situation with your Associates and ensure that the agreement you have in place is not a sham and reflects the current situation.

A word of warning, it would appear that hygienists and therapists are more at risk as being found to be a worker due to the nature of the relationship with the practice owner and often do not have written agreements in place.

The team at FTA Law provides advice to clients across the commercial and healthcare sectors with many of our instructions coming from referrals from long standing clients and industry contacts.

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We understand that price is a big concern for our clients and we always aim to offer a fixed fee for our services.

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