A HISTORIC Supreme Court ruling this week that Uber drivers are workers – not self-employed – is set to have dramatic consequences for millions employed in the soaring gig economy.
Under UK law, a person classed as a worker is entitled to certain employment rights, including the minimum wage, holiday pay and protection from discrimination, which Uber drivers had been denied.
The ruling is set to have dramatic consequences for millions employed in the soaring gig economyCredit: Getty Images – Getty
One in ten adults is said to be employed in the gig economy — which refers to jobs considered to be provided on a freelance basis. Many are attracted to it because of the freedom it allows them.
But for others, it is categorised by a lack of rights and poor job security.
Alex Deal, employment lawyer at RIAA Barker Gillette, said: “Technology has allowed people to have a more flexible lifestyle but it allows business to take advantage. This ruling will send a clear message to businesses that people working for them must have basic protection.”
Here Alex Deal answers your questions . . .
Q) I’m an Uber driver, how does this affect my pay?
A) Potentially significantly. If drivers have been operating at less than the minimum wage, then it’s going to give them a right to more pay in future. It may also give them a claim to back pay.
Q) I have a small delivery business and I use casual workers. Will this affect me?
A) If people working for you are on call over a set period of time, you may have to provide paid leave and the minimum wage. One reason Uber drivers won is that they could be considered as starting work when they logged in to the app, even if they had not accepted a job. This may impact any business using this model.
Q) I have a zero-hours contract in retail. How might this affect me?
A) There are already protections in relation to zero-hour contracts in that it is unlawful to require someone to work exclusively for a business. This case isn’t going to have a direct effect on this issue.
If Uber drivers have been operating at less than the minimum wage, then the ruling is going to give them a right to more pay in futureCredit: Alamy
Q) I am a delivery driver for a major online company three days a week. How does this affect my pay?
A) If you are on call for one firm over a period of time this means you may be entitled to the minimum wage for those hours. And if you work regularly you may be entitled to holiday pay.
Q) I’m a seasonal farm worker. Will this benefit me?
A) No, this is not likely to affect casual farm workers, such as seasonal fruit pickers. They are already entitled to the minimum wage and holiday pay for the period of time they work.
Q) I’m a casual minicab driver. Will I benefit?
A) Not necessarily. Unlike Uber drivers, the average minicab driver decides when they are going to pick someone up and they are the person collecting the fare.
Q) I’m a long-distance delivery driver. Does this affect me?
A) Potentially yes. You may be entitled to the minimum wage and holiday pay.
Q) I have a manufacturing business. What will this mean for me?
A) For most people, working hours are easily measured — you clock in and out — and you can tell if you are paying the minimum wage. This does not affect you.
Q) I work in a care home and I am on call for 24 hours at a time but only work for 12 hours, for which I’m paid. Will I see any change?
A) This case doesn’t impact this area yet. But watch this space.
Q) I work delivering food for an online company. Can I benefit?
A) Potentially yes if you are on call and are not in control of the client relationship — although it needs to be legally tested.
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