Employed or Self-Employed? Palmers Solicitor considers Uber case

Lara Murray, an Associate Solicitor at South Essex-based law firm Palmers, has said “control is the key issue” in the case currently being heard by an Employment Tribunal in London concerning the employment status of Uber drivers.

The case before the Employment Tribunal has been brought by two Uber drivers who say they are being unlawfully denied holiday and sick pay. They say they should be considered employees of Uber, while the company contends that they are self-employed.

The drivers do not currently receive holiday and sick pay because they are considered to be self-employed and so are not entitled to the rights enjoyed by workers.

Lara Murray said: “Broadly speaking, control is the key issue. If it is found that Uber exercises a significant degree of control over the drivers, in terms of how and when they work for example, it is possible that the drivers will be workers rather than self-employed.

“If there is no mutuality of obligation, then they will be self-employed. An example would be if Uber has no obligation to provide the drivers with work and the drivers have no obligation to accept offers of work.”

She added: “If the drivers are found to be in business on their own account rather than working for Uber’s business, then this would be self-employment.”

Businesses wishing to protect themselves from similar claims should obtain regular signed declarations of self-employment from workers and monitor if they are working for other clients, since exclusively working for one business might indicate that they are not in business on their own account, she advised.

Palmers, which has offices in Basildon, Thurrock and South Woodham Ferrers, has produced a free guide on employment statuses here.

Businesses and self-employed individuals who are concerned about issues around employment status can contact Palmers for specialist legal advice.