Uber ruling could open the floodgates for the greater gig economy

by Kate Hindmarch, partner in Employment Law at Langleys Solicitors

“The Supreme Court has set an important legal precedent today, that really has the momentum to affect not just those who work for Uber but the nearly 5 million workers in the UK that are employed in the ‘gig economy’.

“Despite Uber’s best efforts to set out a contract that defines each driver as self-employed, which afforded them minimum legal protection, the courts have seen that the actual relationship between Uber and its drivers reflect a worker/employer status.

“The implications this now has for a fast-growing form of employment could see more cases brought before employment tribunals, as workers demand back-payment from companies who have failed to meet minimum wage requirements, or holiday pay entitlements.

“While many businesses who operate based on the ‘gig economy’ have suggested that the self-employed status offers people more freedom and flexibility in their work-life, the court has noted how Uber drivers actually have limited control over a large amount of their employment agreement, including not having the ability to set their own price.

“The legal entitlement set out in employment law protects workers in the UK from exploitation by businesses and affords them a basic set of rights across the board. This precedent shows that, despite businesses’ best attempts to use contracts to create a loophole in order to waver their accountability, the courts will still rule in favour of protecting these employment rights.”