Union calls on Uber to end battle over drivers' rights ahead of court hearing

21 July 2020, 08:35

Judges at the UK's highest court - will decide whether Uber drivers should be classed as workers or self-employed later
Judges at the UK's highest court - will decide whether Uber drivers should be classed as workers or self-employed later. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Ride-hailing app Uber has been urged to end a four-year legal fight over the status of its drivers as workers or third-party contractors by a union.

The GMB union has called for talks ahead of a planned Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday which has been brought by the company on appeal.

Uber has already lost three rounds of a fight with drivers and now seven justices will oversee a virtual, two-day court hearing.

Drivers have maintained they are legally "worked" and entitled to paid leave, the minimum wage and other legal protections.

But, Uber claims drivers are "independent, third-party contractors", not workers.

It comes after an employment tribunal ruled that Uber drivers are workers and entitled to workers' rights in 2016.

That ruling was upheld by an employment appeal tribunal, and by Court of Appeal judges.

GMB legal director Susan Harris said Uber should end the fight.

"Despite repeatedly losing the argument, Uber persists in using the legal system to avoid its responsibilities to our members," she said.

"GMB calls on Uber to recognise this is the end of the legal road, to abandon their legal challenge and sit down with GMB, the union for Uber drivers, to discuss the way forward."

Supreme Court justices have been asked to decide whether drivers are "workers" and, if they are, what periods constitute their "working time".

They are not expected to deliver a ruling until later in the year.

A law firm, enlisted by GMB to represent Uber drivers, says drivers will be entitled to compensation for lost pay if Uber loses in the Supreme Court.

Leigh Day thinks tens of thousands of Uber drivers could be entitled to an average of £12,000 each.

Lawyer Nigel Mackay said: "Uber is soon going to reach the end of the road in its fight to stop its drivers being given workers' rights.

"If Uber loses, it will have no other option but to compensate those drivers who have brought claims for failures to provide holiday pay and where the company has paid them below the minimum wage."

A Leigh Day spokeswoman said if Uber loses the Supreme Court fight, the case will return to an employment tribunal, for decisions to be made on how much compensation drivers should get.