Uber’s “complex and artificial” employment contracts criticised by Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has criticised Uber’s “complex and artificial” employment contracts in a new judgment handed down earlier this week.

The news comes at a difficult time for the popular taxi-hailing app, which has suffered as many as three defeats in Court in the past three years following decisions made by the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Uber has long been under fire over its model of employment, which sees its drivers treated as self-employed and not entitled to basic workers’ rights such as paid holiday and sick leave or the National Minimum Wage (NMW).

Most recently, Uber has been challenged by two of its drivers, Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar, in the case Uber v Aslam, Farrar & Ors, which drew to a close at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday 19 December.

In a judgment issued yesterday, the Court of Appeal found that the two drivers should indeed be entitled to basic workers’ rights – despite Judges presiding over the case initially being split on their options.

Kate Boguslawska, employment law specialist and a Partner at Carter Lemon Camerons LLP is not surprised, “Uber drivers’ contractual arrangements are notoriously complex and not necessarily reflecting the true nature of their engagement. On the other hand, historically drivers were self-employed”.”

“An employment status is linked to an individual’s employment rights so it is of paramount importance that this notion is clear and understood by the parties. The differences are often blurred and not obvious.

“This  judgment is likely to go a long way towards helping to protect modern workers active in the so-called ‘gig economy’ although it did stress that it is the job for the government to introduce more clarity and fairness to people’s working relationship, Boguslawska adds

If you need advice with regards to any of the employment law issues raised above, please contact Kate Boguslawska or Andrew Firman to find out how our expert team can help.