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Uber protests spark legal row over self-employed workers

Uber drivers await the results of an Employment Tribunal after challenging their employment status.

The UK has been playing host to a series of high profile actions led by disgruntled self-employed contractors.

Alongside Uber drivers, Deliveroo couriers withdrew labour and UberEats couriers utilised public protest as pay leverage.

Under UK law, self-employed contractors lack access to rights such as an entitlement to the national minimum wage, statutory sick leave and protection from unfair dismissal - no matter the length of time they have been contracted by a single firm.

While the protesting drivers and couriers have been classed as self-employed by their firms, their status under the law may well be redefined as some of their concerns reach court.

Matt Gingell, partner at Gannons solicitors, comments:

“…what is written in the contract does not determine employment status. It’s what is happening in practice that counts…the law has to recognise the distinction between those who are effectively controlled by an organisation (employees), those who have slightly looser arrangements (workers) and those who are genuinely in business sacrificing rights for greater flexibility (the self-employed).”

A success against Uber may encourage similar claims against other companies categorising their workforce as self-employed, leading to wide scale redefinition.

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Lexoo Legal Brief contributor | LLM, Queen Mary University of London
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