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Does the EAT give Uber a 5-star rating? – Theodora Hand

Uber began its life as a smartphone app in 2010 in America. It is a competitively priced taxi app which is used by millions, but Uber drivers have joined the increasing number of those working in the ‘gig economy’ who want to clarify their employment status and working rights.

Aslam & Farrar v Uber, is one of the latest attempts to seek clarification on whether those working in the gig economy are workers or independent contractors, following suit from Pimlico Plumbers v Smith [2017] EWCA Civ 51 where earlier this year the Court of Appeal agreed with the ET that the Claimant was entitled to basic workers’ rights.

In her judgment, handed down last Friday, HHJ Eady QC dismissed Uber’s appeal and upheld the ET decision that found drivers to be workers for the purposes of 230(3)(b) Employment Rights Act 1996, regulation 36(1) Working Time Regulations 1998 and section 54(3) National Minimum Wage Act 1998.

It is unlikely that Uber will embrace this decision and there are two further possible stages in the appeal process – the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Could Uber join with Pimlico Plumbers and leapfrog the question of what constitutes a ‘worker’ straight to the Supreme Court? There has been some word on the street of this, but we will have to wait and see.

To read the judgment in full, click here.

(Theodora Hand – Pupil Barrister of St Philips Chambers)

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