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Gig economy: Uber drivers are workers, Supreme Court finds

February 22 2021

The Supreme Court has ruled that Uber drivers are workers and are thus entitled to holiday pay and the national minimum wage, in a ruling with ‘huge implications’ for the gig economy.

In a judgment handed down this morning, six justices unanimously dismissed Uber’s appeal against a 2018 Court of Appeal ruling. The company argued that drivers are independent contractors who work under contracts made with customers.

In Uber BV and others v Aslam and others, the Supreme Court disagreed, finding there was no factual basis for asserting that Uber London acted merely as an agent for drivers. Instead, it found that Uber London contracts with passengers and engages drivers to carry out bookings for it.

It added that the service performed by drivers and offered to passengers through the Uber app is very tightly defined and controlled by Uber.

‘On the facts found in the present case… I think it clear that the employment tribunal was entitled to find that the claimant drivers were “workers” who worked for Uber London under “worker’s contracts” within the meaning of the statutory definition. Indeed, that was, in my opinion, the only conclusion which the tribunal could reasonably have reached,’ Lord Leggatt wrote in judgment.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer, said: “This has been a gruelling four-year legal battle for our members – but it’s ended in a historic win.

“The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of three previous courts, backing up what GMB has said all along; Uber drivers are workers and entitled to breaks, holiday pay and minimum wage.

“Uber must now stop wasting time and money pursuing lost legal causes and do what’s right by the drivers who prop up its empire.

“GMB will now consult with our Uber driver members over their forthcoming compensation claim.”