Uber drivers win key legal battle over working rights

The case could reverberate across the 'gig economy'


In a landmark decision, the London Central Employment Tribunal has ruled that Uber drivers are workers entitled to basic rights, including sick pay, a guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay and regular breaks.

This test case was brought to the tribunal by GMB, and the finding could reverberate across the so-called ‘gig economy’, in which workers are routinely classified as self-employed and, as such, not entitled to employee benefits.

‘This is a ground-breaking decision,’ said employment lawyer Lee Day. ‘It will impact not just on the thousands of Uber drivers working in this country, but on all workers in the so-called gig economy whose employers wrongly classify them as self-employed and deny them the rights to which they are entitled.’

Maria Ludkin, GMB legal director, issued the following statement:

“This is a monumental victory that will have a hugely positive impact on over 30,000 drivers in London and across England and Wales and for thousands more in other industries where bogus self-employment is rife.

Uber drivers and other directed workers do have legal rights at work. The question for them now is how those rights are enforced in practice. The clear answer is that the workforce must combine into the GMB union to force the company to recognise these rights and to negotiate fair terms and conditions for the drivers.

This loophole that has allowed unscrupulous employers to avoid employment rights, sick pay and minimum wage for their staff and costing the government millions in lost tax revenue will now be closed.”

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, also welcomed the decision:

“This case has exposed the dark side of so-called ‘flexible’ labour. For many workers the gig economy is a rigged economy, where bosses can get out of paying the minimum wage and providing basics like paid holidays and rest breaks.

What is happening at Uber is just the tip of the iceberg. Lots of people are now trapped in insecure jobs, with low pay and no voice at work. We need the government to get tough on sham self-employment.”

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