Lawyers for two former drivers last week won tribunal ruling that they were entitled to minimum wage and sick pay. Uber is facing the likelihood of several hundred more legal claims from taxi drivers who believe they have been wrongly classed as self-employed and are owed backdated holiday pay and missing wages.
Lawyers for two former drivers who last week won an employment tribunal judgment that they were in fact employed as workers and should therefore benefit from the minimum wage, holiday pay and sick pay, said they were preparing to lodge multiple new cases with the same court.
The US taxi app giant has pledged to appeal against last Friday’s verdict, which was sharply critical of Uber’s treatment of its drivers as self-employed. Nineteen drivers lodged claims and two, Yasseen Aslam and James Farrar, were selected to test the issues in front of the tribunal. Uber is expected to issue proceedings at the court of appeal this month or next.
If successful the new cases could significantly increase Uber’s costs in holiday pay and compensation for underpayment of the minimum wage where it can be proved.
“We have received hundreds of inquiries from Uber drivers who are unhappy with their working conditions and are interested in bringing a claim for back pay of holiday pay and back pay of the national minimum wage,” said Annie Powell, employment lawyer at Leigh Day solicitors.
“We will lodge further employment tribunal claims with the support of the GMB union. It will be exactly the same claim as for the first 19 drivers and we will argue they should be workers rather than self-employed and so should be entitled to workers’ rights.”
Powell said there was no limit to the number of cases it could run. The firm had pursued class actions with over a thousand claimants in other matters. Uber has 40,000 drivers in the UK, but the company insists that according to its own survey, three-quarters of its drivers feel that “being self-employed and being able to choose their own hours is preferable to having things like holiday pay which come with being employed”. Uber argues it does not employ the drivers and that while it charges commission on each fare, the contract is between the driver and passenger.