Uber drivers win workers’ rights ruling: is Deliveroo next?

- Leadership - Oct 28, 2016

Two Uber drivers have won a London employment tribunal ruling, meaning the company will have to provide basic rights including holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the minimum wage.

James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam disputed that they were truly self-employed and said that Uber essentially controlled their actions as workers. Farrar claimed that his net earnings after fuel, insurance and vehicle upkeep expenses was little over £5 an hour, some £1.20 short of the new minimum wage brought in by the UK government this year.

The pair’s lawyer Nigel Mackay told the BBC: "This judgment acknowledges the central contribution that Uber's drivers have made to Uber's success by confirming that its drivers are not self-employed, but that they work for Uber as part of the company's business.

"This is a ground-breaking decision. It will impact not just on the thousands of Uber drivers working in this country, but on all workers in the so-called gig economy whose employers wrongly classify them as self-employed and deny them the rights to which they are entitled."

Will Deliveroo follow the Uber ruling?

But what precedent does this set for other companies with a similar business model. The two-wheeled restaurant delivery service Deliveroo immediately comes to mind.

Designed to pay cyclists and scooter riders for delivering restaurant food to customers’ front doors, the main sell for Deliveroo is that is essentially pays people to pursue their hobby. However, this ethos could be set to change markedly if its riders act upon the Uber ruling. It may depend on how many Deliveroo riders use the job as an income supplement, hobby or main source of income.

This could be the source of the problem in itself for these companies – its workers having different motives for signing up with them.

Jo Bertram, Uber's UK manager, commented on the ruling: "Tens of thousands of people in London drive with Uber precisely because they want to be self-employed and their own boss.

"The overwhelming majority of drivers who use the Uber app want to keep the freedom and flexibility of being able to drive when and where they want. While the decision of this preliminary hearing only affects two people, we will be appealing it."

Indeed, research by the Adam Smith Institute shows the average Uber driver earns above the national minimum wage, taking home around £12 an hour after expenses.

Read the October 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine. 

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