The Supreme Court Uber decision and its significance on employers

by | Mar 30, 2021 | News

The impact of the Supreme Court Uber decision

HR professionals and employers have all heard of what is being described as one of the most important employment law decisions in decades – the Supreme Court Uber decision.

After years of Uber challenging previous rulings, the Supreme Court confirms Uber drivers are workers (not independent contractors) for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996, for National Minimum Wage rights and working time regulations.

What does this mean for us all and for wider employment considerations?

In UK employment law, the question of whether someone is an employee, worker or independent contractor is important because each category attracts different rights and obligations, set out below.

  • Employees working under a contract of employment, have full statutory employment rights.  These rights are vast but include the right not to be unfairly dismissed, the right to the minimum wage, the right to take family related leave such as maternity/adoption leave and more.
  • Workers, who have a status in between employment and self-employment have limited employment rights and are therefore not afforded the same protection as an employee.  Some of their rights include the right to the minimum wage, the working time regulations and part-time workers’ regulations.
  • The genuinely self-employed, who are independent contractors have no employment contract and workers are not afforded any statutory employment rights (although they may be protected by some discrimination law).

We should all be aware that these labels don’t determine employment status – that depends on the terms of contract and how the arrangements operate in practice.

Top tips for employers to consider

  • When setting up the contract, for whichever category, make sure it is clear about who is responsible for what and the employment status of that individual.
  • Regularly carry out an audit of the existing contracts you have in place and take steps to make the employment status clearer if needed. Also make sure that the practice matches the contract as in the Uber case, tribunals don’t only look at the contract type, they also consider the behaviours and practice between the company and the individual if the employment status is being questioned.

Finally, remember that statements of written particulars are required for employees and, from 6 April 2020, for workers too, setting out what rights they are entitled to.

If you are interested in a factsheet on what to include in the statements of written particulars, or think we can help you with getting your contracts right, then we would love to hear from you.