back to article Uber drivers entitled to UK minimum wage, London tribunal rules

Two Uber drivers who had taken the taxi app to an employment tribunal successfully argued that UK minimum wage laws apply to Uber's British drivers, as part of a larger ongoing case against the company. The Employment Tribunal judge, A M Snelson, found that Uber's UK drivers are performing "unmeasured work", as defined by …

  1. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    So called Tech

    Uber, AirBnB etc are not tech companies, but regular Taxi and B&B booking services using apps/Internet instead of phone.

    They are exploitive. Unsurprisingly not only are Uber Drivers working for Uber, but people renting out their place "significantly" rather than 2 weeks once a year need planning permission for change of use.

    Deception is common to all these Internet based classified, services etc.

    1. 's water music Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: soi disant

      deception disruption

      dkuatb because apps

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: So called Tech

      Indeed.

      I find it extremely disturbing that el reg did not quote the more interesting bits from the judgement.

      Read the graunidad coverage (especially if you can somehow pull up the initial non-updated one).

      https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/28/uber-uk-tribunal-self-employed-status

      The verdict is beyond damning:

      “The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our minds faintly ridiculous,” the judges said. “Drivers do not and cannot negotiate with passengers … They are offered and accept trips strictly on Uber’s terms.”

      Pity they edited out the Hamlet quote after an update. It is hilarious - commenting on the Uber UK director that : "The lady doth protest too much, methinks"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So called Tech

      I agree with you about airbnb, but another tech comparison might be booking.com

      With booking.com there is no doubt that they are an online agent booking hotels for clients. As the hotels are businesses there is absolutely no doubt that the hotel staff work for the hotel and not booking.com

      I feel this is the model that Uber will move to here. By changing the contracts and only using companies that "employ" drivers they will nimbly move around this ruling. Their drivers will be forced to become taxi companies that follow Uber business practices.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: So called Tech

        Uber can't. Key to the booking.com model is that the hotelier sets the price, Uber doesn't work like that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So called Tech

          @Adam 52

          Good point, but whilst Uber doesn't work like booking.com (as Uber sets the price) it is an easy enough contractual change for them to fix.

          For example they could chose to only allow bookings through taxi companies that comply with their conditions. One of these conditions could be the maximum taxi rate. They could even "justify" the maximum price by saying that their focus is providing affordable taxi services with no surprise costs for their customers.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So called Tech

            For example they could chose to only allow bookings through taxi companies

            Uber and Co are competitive because it drives a the whole horsecart trhough existing regulation and legislation including minimum wage, NI, etc. The moment they have to book strictly through business entities, not "self-employed" (actually slaves), they stops being competitive.

            While this means that various services like delivery will become more expensive for most of us, minimum hourly wage and NI legislation is there for a reason. I'd rather pay more for my amazon delivery or taxi ride than see these eroded.

        2. enormous c word

          Re: So called Tech

          I will never use Uber for all of these reasons - scumbags.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: So called Tech

      "Uber, AirBnB etc are not tech companies, but regular Taxi and B&B booking services using apps/Internet instead of phone."

      As someone else pointed out a few months back:

      These kinds of companies are reviving the old abusive practice of "piecework" for the 21st century.

      There's nothing new about this business model. It's just delivered slightly differently - and there's a reason such business models were banned in the past, which is likely to result in it being banned again.

    5. Haku

      Re: So called Tech

      This guy does a pretty good job of explaining why Airbnb should probably be avoided:

      Adam Ruins Everything - Why Your Airbnb May Be ILLEGAL (YouTube)

  2. Immenseness
    Pint

    Optional

    "Two Uber drivers who had took the taxi app to an employment tribunal "

    Arrggh! It hurts!

    But beer all round for the quick fix!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Optional

      Two licenced cabbies, pretending to be uber drivers, get a uber ruling that suits taxi drivers..

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Optional

        "Two licenced cabbies, pretending to be uber drivers, get a uber ruling that suits taxi drivers.."

        1) It's 'licensed' in Britain, possibly the US as well given the red underline of 'licenced'.

        2) I believe the OP was referring to 'had took'...

        1. Just Enough

          Re: Optional

          I believe the anon coward was suggesting that the "uber drivers" were also in fact taxi drivers from other taxi businesses, who clearly have an interest in Uber getting brought into line with every other taxi company.

          Personally, I'm fine with that. It's funny how Uber have been, for a while now, the darling of the IT industry. Simply because they use an app. But that shouldn't give them a free pass to ignoring all the regulations that go with being an operating taxi firm in the UK, with employed drivers. The only good that's come of their transparent attempt to roll back employment law is that it's given the rest of the industry a kick up the behind in getting themselves up to date with available technology.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't like this contract that I agreed to

    Judge: "No-one will be allowed to agree to this contract ever again!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think contracts can override the law

      Judge: No, the law takes precedence and is not optional. An illegal contract is not binding.

      1. Don Dumb
        Go

        Re: I think contracts can override the law

        @AC - Yeah, I wish basic contract law was taught in schools. It's the equivalent of "Know your rights". There's so much that people should really have a chance of understanding (contract law, banking, bias, the 'real' value of things) that I wish it became a lesson in schools for 16 year olds.

        Far more useful than some things taught at that age.

        Contracts cannot absolve companies from their statutory obligations and cannot oblige an illegal act. It's amazing how many people thing otherwise.

        1. BillG Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: I think contracts can override the law

          Don Dumb wrote: Contracts cannot absolve companies from their statutory obligations and cannot oblige an illegal act. It's amazing how many people thing otherwise.

          To put it another way:

          A contract cannot make something that is illegal, legal.

          1. Don Dumb

            Re: I think contracts can override the law

            @BillG - a much more succinct explanation.

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: I think contracts can override the law

          "I wish it became a lesson in schools for 16 year olds."

          Wot, don't they teach Design For Living in schools nowadays? They certainly did when I was doing 'O' levels back in the 1980s.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I think contracts can override the law

        "An illegal contract is not binding."

        A well-written contract tends to have severability clauses in it so that the illegal parts can be struck out whilst the contract itself stands.

        Getting the entire contract declared invalid is rather damning.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: I don't like this contract that I agreed to

      No... contract was unfair. Doesn't matter if you agreed to it or not, an unfair contract has no basis in law and to prove that you take it to court.

      Would you like to see some of the things that standard print companies think are enforceable and making schools etc. sign up to?

      **Clauses discovered in standard managed print contracts**

      (Paraphrased so they aren't directly Google-able, but still accurate). Bear in mind that we're talking dozens of printers, millions of pages each year, and big-money on 3-year leases (or 5-year, in some cases, because if you actually read the smallprint, the last two are "optional" but "chargeable" even if the lease says three years - that should give you a taster of what's to come), from big-names in IT, print companies in general (I guarantee you've heard of several printer manufacturers which have this shit in their contract), and people who claim to offer "one-stop" service for IT:

      - "If you decide to cancel at any time, you have to give three months notice, pay 100% of the remaining quarterly costs for the year, plus 49% of the average print use for all the remaining months of the contract".

      - "If you do not use our reporting software, whether by our fault or not, we will charge £15 per toner delivery" (Hint: a school might have about 10-20 toners delivered every month, on average)

      - "We reserve the right to increase these costs without notice by 10% per year, or by 7% plus inflation, whichever is higher" (with: "If we increase costs by more than this, we are only obliged to notify you 30 days beforehand").

      - "We will charge you £75 per printer per quarter for each printer that doesn't meet our minimum print guidelines [unspecified anywhere] as a service charge".

      - "If you do not want to pay the monthly service charge, we will bill you at £150 per hour for any service required" [WTF? It's a printer, not a space shuttle]

      - "This service charge does not include toners or consumable parts" [WTF?]

      - "The charge for scans is equivalent to the charge for one A4 colour print" [WTFing-F? Never heard of someone charging for scans before!]

      - "Nothing mentioned elsewhere [e.g. the quotes, the written promises, or even another contract] affects or overrides these contract terms."

      A lot of that is unenforceable but a lot of it is not. It's based on a standard lease contract from a major firm that everyone has copied after realising a) people sign up, b) people then think they can't get out of it, c) people sometimes CAN'T get out of it without it costing them more than they have.

      But because it's unfair, you can take it to a court, get it proven wrong, and stop them EVER using those terms in their contracts ever again. Until the next con is discovered.

      Just because you signed it, knowingly, being of sane mind, and agreed at the time, it does NOT make it a legal contract.

      That's the primary reason that EULA's are generally not considered binding contracts either in many cases. Nobody can sit and read 48 pages of terms and conditions on a mobile device every time iOS updates, so they could slip ANYTHING in, even a clause that only appears on YOUR copy of the contract (and not some other guy on the Internet who posts his analysis of the contract, for example). So a lot of that stuff just isn't enforceable.

      But to prove it, you have to take it to court, which is expensive and not without risk.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I don't like this contract that I agreed to

        "- "If you do not want to pay the monthly service charge, we will bill you at £150 per hour for any service required" [WTF? It's a printer, not a space shuttle]

        - "This service charge does not include toners or consumable parts" [WTF?]"

        Actually, those are pretty standard terms for off-contract servicing. Charging that for leased kit is a con, but I'd expect any service call out caused by the customer not dealing properly with the consumables to be chargeable, on or off contract. In any industry, not just printers or even IT in general.

        I couldn't agree more with the rest of your assessment though.

  4. Gordan

    Will this do anything...

    ... other than accelerate the disappearance of taxi driver as a profession the instant that the first self-driving car certified for unattended road use becomes available to buy?

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Will this do anything...

      That's Uber's plan anyway, so I think the issue at stake here is whether or not Uber will want to continue business in the UK under this labor ruling.

      The problem with that for Uber is that if they pull out of the UK market, then they have to rebuild customer relationships when self-driving cars are available and they want to get back in the marketplace with those.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Will this do anything...

        "The problem with that for Uber is that if they pull out of the UK market, then they have to rebuild customer relationships"

        The average punter doesn't really care who his (non-hackney-carriage) taxi company is, they change every couple of years anyway.

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Will this do anything...

        Google is one of the Uber backers. The low price undercuts operations that have to run at a profit. They are backing it to get the user details, routes and times. ALL the App data is kept. I'd be amazed if Google isn't getting a copy.

        So this is a con on two levels. The only flexibility the drivers have is to refuse pickups. That isn't affected by the ruling despite Uber's claims. Uber otherwise controls the driver and price. It is piece work. The fact that it uses software is a means to an end, not the end (selling taxi rides and slurping all the data) the App just makes it all cheaper to run and store the data than if they were rolling out a voice phone up taxi / hackney service (not the same thing originally). So Uber is taking 25% for running an automated version of a taxi company and keeping all the valuable user/route/time data. The drivers only know about their individual fares. They are not managing, co-ordinating, marketing nor storing the data. Just accepting the piece work or turning it away.

        No doubt Uber will go to the highest court, because otherwise their exploitation is exposed. It will be a terrible travesty of justice if they win. Is it worth it to exploit the drivers to undercut existing taxi operations? Otherwise Uber would be marketing their service to existing taxi companies.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Will this do anything...

      Possibly, but it will be interesting to hear Uber argue that the car is nothing to do with them because it is self employed.

    3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Will this do anything...

      Will also be interesting how a driver-less taxi can deal with disabled passengers who need assistance to board and/or load luggage.

      Will they argue they can only take orders from the able-bodied?

      Or that somehow taking payment for travel is not making them a taxi service?

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Will this do anything...

        at what point does assistance blur into medical care ?

        As long as a wheelchair user can enter and direct a driverless car, I imagine all obligations have been met - although fair point about luggage ??????

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Will this do anything...

          "As long as a wheelchair user"

          Disabilities come in many forms. It's a shame a wheelchair logo was chosen to represent disabled in general when the vast majority of disabled people neither need nor want a wheelchair.

          1. Havin_it
            Trollface

            Re: Will this do anything...

            Well this just comes across as bitterness, but if you have no body then I suppose it's understandable. It must have taken ages to type that with your nose.

      2. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Will this do anything...

        Maybe when ordering a taxi you specify (as you do now) that you need a disabled taxi (no, I don't mean a non-functioning taxi, I mean a taxi with facilities for disabled users - wheel-chair lifts etc). I'd imagine that this small subset of taxi's (less than 5% I think) could still be staffed with a driver.

    4. Haku

      Re: Will this do anything...

      It appears Tesla are steering well clear of any association with Uber, Lyft and their ilk as they have stated you can't use their new Model X car as a taxi, because they're planning their own car share taxi-ish system 'Tesla Network' in the near future. www.theverge.com/2016/10/20/13346396/tesla-self-driving-ride-sharing-uber-lyft

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Will this do anything...

        "Tesla...have stated you can't use their new Model X car as a taxi,"

        How is that enforceable? I thought they sold cars, not leased them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Will this do anything...

          How is that enforceable?

          See Lee D's post above. Tech companies (and many non-tech US companies) think they can write any old shit in their T&Cs regardless of prevailing statute.

          Interestingly, the egregious use of legitimate but unintended tax loopholes has now seen that practice coming under harsh scrutiny and changes made (eg EU proposals on common tax rates, various moves on withholding taxes), and if the Globocorps continue to try and ignore statute law in their contracts, that too will become not merely unenforceable at the individual contract level, but a criminal act in itself.

        2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Will this do anything...

          > How is that enforceable? I thought they sold cars, not leased them.

          They sell the car, but not the software in it. I read a while ago about one of the main tractor manufacturers (John Deere IIRC) using licensing terms to lock out independent mechanics.

          The process goes like : lots of stuff is controlled by the software, the software is licensed rather than sold, you need the official diagnostics software to do even basic maintenance, the manufacturer only allows it's franchised outfits access to it - and in the USA it's expressly illegal to try and bypass "technical protection measures". So an independent mechanic can't do much at all without "breaking in" to the software, something that's expressly a criminal act under their DMCA.

          So coming back to Tesla, if they put a clause in the licence that you can't use it as a taxi, and they find out, then they can revoke your licence and the car becomes a vary expensive four wheeled brick. Note that you also cannot use the car without it being connected to Tesla, and they know where you've been, when, etc.

  5. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Next on the list: VAT

    There has been some controversy over the exact position with UBER regarding VAT. Though the parent company is registered in Netherlands and has a Dutch VAT number, it looks as if UBER might have been relying on the notion that you the customer are paying the driver who is their own company, who is therefore unlikely to need to register for VAT (obligatory only on reaching a certain turnover threshold). The driver pays the parent company and consequently there is no VAT in that transaction either.

    If it is now ascertained that UBER are the company being paid by the customer then VAT is due. Now the Dutch VAT number on their paperwork implies that that could be used on your VAT return (in a neutral way, the input VAT is zero because it is an EU code, not a UK one). However, the place of supply is the UK and therefore (my understanding is that) VAT needs to be charged at 20% and that (because their turnover would be higher than the registration trigger) UBER need to register for UK VAT.

    With this ruling I suspect that HMRC will want some VAT and that will need to be taken into account in UBER's pricing.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Next on the list: VAT

      I am most definitely NOT a VAT expert but a quick search or two suggested that "transport" is either zero - rated or exempt, and I couldn't find anything to suggest that taxis were not "transport".

      Are you sure that VAT is currently charged on taxi fares in the UK?

      1. Chemist

        Re: Next on the list: VAT

        "Are you sure that VAT is currently charged on taxi fares in the UK?"

        A quick google "vat on taxi" gave -

        https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-notice-70025-taxis-and-private-hire-cars/vat-notice-70025-taxis-and-private-hire-cars

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Next on the list: VAT

        Zero rating for transport only applies to transport in vehicles that have 10 or more seats - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-notice-744a-passenger-transport/vat-notice-744a-passenger-transport#zero-rating-passenger-transport

        There is an exemption whereby if you take out seats to make room for a wheelchair, you can pretend the seats are still there for VAT purposes, but nevertheless, Über cars have nowhere near 10 seats, usually they have 5.

        Also, place of supply for transport in the EU is the place where the journey commences, regardless of where the company providing it is located. If the journey starts in London, it is subject to UK VAT no matter what. Even if you pick someone up at the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkstone and head for the South of France, the journey takes place in the UK for VAT purposes.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Next on the list: VAT

      "I suspect that HMRC will want some VAT"

      They may *want* some, but their track record in this is so abyssmal that I suspect they will "do a deal" that lets Uber draw a line under the whole of history in exchange for the princely sum of fourteen pounds and twenty-five pennies.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: Next on the list: VAT

        Even if zero-rated, won't the VAT will need to be accounted for? In order to show that it's zero. And if so will that mean that HMRC will get a better insight into Uber's finances?

      2. eionmac

        Re: Next on the list: VAT

        No. Only five farthings for all past transport.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Next on the list: VAT

        "draw a line under the whole of history in exchange for the princely sum of fourteen pounds and twenty-five pennies."

        It's called "doing a Vodafone", innit. The names Dearnley and Hartnett also come to mind, and again the letters H M R and C:

        http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2286357/vodafone-cio-to-become-hmrcs-chief-digital-and-information-officer

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2270813/Former-UK-tax-chief-Dave-Harnett-lied-MPs-advise-HSBC-bank-honesty.html

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Next on the list: VAT

      "The driver pays the parent company and consequently there is no VAT in that transaction either."

      If by "parent company" you mean Uber which, as you say elsewhere, is big enough to be VAT registered why would that payment not incur VAT? And if that's the case then either the driver can't reclaim VAT or would have to be VAT registered and hence would have to charge VAT to the passengers.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Next on the list: VAT. @Dr Syntax

        Well spotted. I was thinking of things from the other way round.

        However, have a look at an UBER invoice and it (apparently) shows zero tax. I believe there is a zero rate in Netherlands for entrepreneurs, however it does not apply to the supply of services to a non-registered entity in another EU country. So either way, there is a flaw in their treatment of VAT.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Next on the list: VAT. @Dr Syntax

          The passenger pays Über for the cab journey, and that is what Über issues the invoice in respect of. As explained above, if the journey commences in the UK, UK VAT rules apply regardless of where the company is situated, so they should be charging VAT at 20%. There is no possibility of EU reverse charge on this supply as it isn't a cross-border trade. If someone from another EU country comes to London on a business trip and uses Über for business travel, they would have to do an EU VAT refund claim to get the VAT back. They submit this return to their local tax office along with a copy of the receipt, and it gets forwarded to HMRC who will pay the money directly into the company's bank account if the claim is approved.

          Über pays the driver, and as we have established that the payment is in the form of wages, there is no VAT on wages, so Über can't claim anything back there.

  6. Wommit

    This ruling might impact upon a larger community. Those whose conditions of employment force them to use their own vehicles for transport 'between' jobs, those who work such long hours that their salary (when calculated against hours worked rather than hours contracted) falls below the national minimum.

    Carers, working for home care companies, or local authorities, often have a requirement that they use their own vehicles for transport between jobs. The travel time is not recognised as work related either. So, often, the actual time taken between starting work, and finishing for the day / week, means that the employee is paid significantly below the minimum wage.

    Many in the IT industry are pressurised into working extra hours without pay or time off in lieu. Sometimes this is just an hour or two a week, very often (in my experience) much, much more. As 'salaried' employees they (we) do not get overtime. Thus when our actual hours worked, are calculated into our salary, we are getting quite a raw deal.

    A whole section of the employed community, the armed forces, poorly paid for a normal working week, find that their real hourly rate is minuscule when on active service.

    1. Don Dumb

      @wommit - "A whole section of the employed community, the armed forces, poorly paid for a normal working week, find that their real hourly rate is minuscule when on active service."

      Your main point is true but not correct in some aspects.

      The UK Public Service is pretty good at recognising 'duty time'. Most Departments pay 'travelling time', overtime or give time in lieu (i.e. all active duty is given to the employee one way or another). The armed forces are technically employed 24/7/365 (they can be called up at any time) so it isn't quite the same. Bear in mind they do have quite strict boundaries on things like how much driving they can do within their duty period each day and if they are on proper operations get paid extra allowances to reflect the absence of real off duty time and the danger, distance from home, etc. At least for the Armed forces they are clearly signing up to some non-standard working and they get some recognition (perhaps not enough) that they do duty outside of normal hours.

      The private sector is poor sibling in this regard. Your example of the IT industry is very much one where the employee gets the bum deal and gets no recognition of how much duty time is truely taken up by work. It's even worse for sales people so far as I can see.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        " Most Departments pay 'travelling time', overtime or give time in lieu"

        Try actually TAKING time off in lieu. You might be able to in cases of an hour here and there, but if you're regularly working long hours, not a chance.

        It's a rort and has been for a long time.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      This is something that was just recently addressed in the U.S. and basically established a "min wage for salary" as it were that says salary exempt from overtime now starts at around $25k higher than previous.

      About damn time, too!

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Thumb down? Christmas is still a few months away Mr. Scrooge.

        1. Havin_it
          Joke

          I think it's reasonable to assume that Scrooge's parsimony was a year-round occupation, and that the Christmas season merely provided the appropriate background conditions for the filthy lefty free-riders to perform their cynical bit of social engineering upon him.

          (Signed, someone for whom the emotional blackmail to spend spend SPEND has already entered high gear.)

          Besides, a downvote is as expensive as an upvote, so I don't think it was him at all. QED

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Have an upvote. :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Carers, working for home care companies, or local authorities, often have a requirement that they use their own vehicles for transport between jobs. The travel time is not recognised as work related either."

      There was a court ruling earlier in the year, which decided that when travelling between multiple sites (the case related to carers, but would obviously apply to others), the working day was regarded to start on leaving home, not on reaching the first site, and that this would have an impact on the length of the working week (Working Time directive) and wages (minimum wage).

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Carers, working for home care companies, or local authorities, often have a requirement that they use their own vehicles for transport between jobs. The travel time is not recognised as work related either. "

      Methinks you missed the recent ruling that travel time between jobs is work time too (even if you're travelling on a bus, as many carers do)

      There's been a hell of a lot of abuse of low-paid workers over the past few years and a number of companies have been forced to pay up. The problem is that the heaviest users of such abusive employers have been councils and universities, whilst saying they they won't do such things to their employees - it seems that employees of contractors are fair game (even if said employees were pushed off the council/university payroll and across to the contractors)

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    When UBER loses the Appeal

    They will just shut up shop here in the UK. (Maybe)

    What could be interesting is if other Uber drivers in the EU take them on citing the UK Ruling as precidence. As the uK has implemented EU law/directive in the law quoted it might be possible that Ubers days in the EU are numbered.

    As a minimum, it is good news that they have to pay their drivers properly. We have laws relating to the low paid for a reason. Uber can't flout them like they seem able to do in the USA.

    all of the above has to be taken with a big pinch of salt and the oblig IANAL.

    1. Novex

      Re: When UBER loses the Appeal

      A bit of six of one, half a dozen of the other.

      If they lose the appeal, and if they pull out, I would anticipate that apps like Hailo for proper licensed hire drivers will fill the gap. Any driver with Uber who seriously wants to keep doing the job could just apply to become a private hire driver and work within that set of regulations, which should (though I could be wrong) comply with employment law already.

      What will be more interesting is how, as per the article, this affects the overall 'gig' economy here in the U.K. bearing in mind we'll come out of the E.U. soon and be in a position to make an independent decision on how such businesses operate here. Will we choose to become a 'gig' economy country, trying to be innovative and 'ahead of the game' but at the same time denying reasonable stability to our workers; or will we be overly protectionist and end up with too much power in the hands of the workforce, leaving businesses unable to operate effectively? Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When UBER loses the Appeal

        "we'll come out of the E.U. soon "

        I'm not sure even the government thinks that's likely. The two years from initiating Article 50 (whenever that happens) is extendable albeit depending on EU members agreeing to let it be so.

      2. graeme leggett

        Re: When UBER loses the Appeal

        When (if?) we leave the EU, the law under which the decision was made will still be in place. It might take years for a government to get round to advancing a bill that diluted existing working protection and to get it past a sceptical parliament.

      3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: When UBER loses the Appeal

        "Any driver with Uber who seriously wants to keep doing the job could just apply to become a private hire driver and work within that set of regulations"

        Any driver with Uber *ALREADY* has to be licensed as a private hire driver, as they *((((ARE*(*** a private hire driver.

        1. johnnymotel

          Re: When UBER loses the Appeal

          How does this affect vehicle insurance and public liability insurance? Id assume that if I called myself a private hire driver, I'd have to upgrade my insurance.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: When UBER loses the Appeal

        " Any driver with Uber who seriously wants to keep doing the job could just apply to become a private hire driver "

        Any driver currently with Uber must (by law) already be a licensed private hire driver - with appropriate insurance cover, or they're likely to find themselves sitting at the side of the road with a "driving without insurance" summons in hand.

        Uber in the UK is effectively just another Addison Lee, with all bookings by app instead of by phone.

        I don't know if they're even complying with all the rules about private hire operations (prominently displaying local council licensing internally and externally, etc) but given the nature if the beast (subverting employment + H&S legislation) I wouldn't be surprised to find that the majority of Uber cars are not compliant.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: When UBER loses the Appeal

      "They will just shut up shop here in the UK. (Maybe)"

      So what? Every private hire company in my home city have been taking online bookings for years before Uber came into existance. Remote pre-booking of taxis have existed since the invention of the messenger boy.

      1. Wilco

        Re: When UBER loses the Appeal

        Uber isn't prebooking. You can't prebook a car with Uber. It depends on scale so that it usually (in London at least) has a car only a few minutes away. It's unclear how this ruling will affect their business model. I would guess not that much.

        They'll need to figure out some way of defining when people are getting their hourly rate, and some kind of controls about how many rides they have to accept during that time, but other than that it will be business as usual

        The fares will probably go up, but there will be even more people wanting to drive for Uber as a result, which will make the service better, and that may be enough to keep demand up too.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: When UBER loses the Appeal

      "They will just shut up shop here in the UK. (Maybe)"

      Now that CETA's been signed they could move to Canada & then sue HMG.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    Bu****it language "This is your invoice but is not an invoice" Contract reads like an EULA

    And is equally bogus.

    Uber is a taxi business enabled by its IT development team.

    it's not "tech" firm as such.

    Time to start looking at other businesses who are playing the "We're a tech company, employment laws don't count" BS.

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Bu****it language "This is your invoice but is not an invoice" Contract reads like an EULA

      While common-use language might refer to Uber's (or Lyft's et al.) as taxi's, they are not taxi's, they are hire car's.

      And under the law, there is a difference between taxi's and hire cars.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Bu****it language "This is your invoice but is not an invoice" Contract reads like an EULA

        "While common-use language might refer to Uber's (or Lyft's et al.) as taxi's, they are not taxi's, they are hire car's."

        And none of the nouns to which you have added unwarranted apostrophes are possessives. They're plurals.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AI

    So, Uber wants to stiff UK drivers by using Such Law, in the UK? No wonder Uber is so interested in Self driving cars.

  10. ecofeco Silver badge

    The "sharing economy" is a scam

    The sharing economy is and was always a scam. It's just the old paid-by-job/piecework/fake-contractor shuck and jive tapdance from the past that is, as another commentard wrote accurately and succinctly, dressed up with modern software so therefore "different!".

    The U.S. went through all this and despite the never ending hostility to the average worker, does have very strong contractor and overtime definition rules.

    As for Uber, reports are the turnover is very, very high. Having driven taxis and local contract deliveries myself when I was younger, there really is no money to made doing these types of jobs. One person out a of a hundred might make a living, everyone gets screwed. Word to the wise: don't do driving jobs, they really don't pay for most people.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The "sharing economy" is a scam

      Unless you can get together with a group of other for -hire drivers and make a cartel with an official monopoly in a city and a high barrier to entry

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: The "sharing economy" is a scam

        Far too true as well, YAAC.

  11. eionmac

    Read the judgement PDF

    As I read contracts, I have just read the whole 38 page judgement. The judge was scathing about the UBER Lawyers trying to avoid their legal duties and trying to outwit their "workers". This will go to appeal by Uber I am sure, but the union concerned has to get full marks for taking on this task. If you employ someone and try to disguise employment of 'worker' by obscure wording this judgement will tell against you if you write such stuff after today.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Read the judgement PDF

      Remember that findings of fact can't be appealed, they can only appeal on the grounds that the law has been incorrectly applied to the facts of the case as found by the Tribunal.

      So the finding that Über are a minicab operator that sells the services of the drivers, and not an advertising company that matches passengers to drivers, that can't be appealed.

  12. Preston Munchensonton

    How to classify workers

    Given all the opinions here, I'm curious how to classify the Uber workers who are also logged into other apps simultaneously, i.e. Lyft, Juno, et al. I personally know a few who drive for Uber and all three of them sign into at least two apps at the same time to broaden their earning opportunities. I don't see how those folks can easily be considered just Uber's employee.

    I think those are the folks who will lose the most from this ruling, not Uber. The ride-sharing companies will find a different operating model and continue on.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: How to classify workers

      The point is that UK law has been gradually refined to get past contractor cons. There was a time when a company could pay minimum wage to an agency, and the agency would take their cut leaving the worker below minimum wage, and they claimed this was legal because the agent wasn't an employer, but the worker's representative.

      The standard now hangs on the worker's right to negotiate terms and hours.

      If you can't negotiate hours, you're not self-employed. (With Uber you choose your hours. OK.)

      If you can't negotiate rate, you're not self-employed. (With Uber you can't. Not OK.)

      And notably, in agency settings "bodyshopping" is employment -- if your agent can drop in a replacement for you, you're not a specialist unique worker, so you're not self-employed. (If Uber is considered the agent selling you to the public, they're bodyshopping. Not OK.)

      1. pop_corn

        Re: How to classify workers

        Having been fighting IR35 as a contractor for many years, like others I'm sure, I know more than many about employment law and self-employment status test. Let's go through a few of the biggies, in no particular order, thinking "Does this point indicate employment?":

        1) Personal service - does the driver have to personally perform the service, or can he substitute his brother/cousin/wife/friend etc if he feels like it?

        => YES, personal service is required, this is a pointer towards employment. [Confirmed in para 39 of the judgement.]

        2) Mutuality of obligation - Is the driver obliged to turn up for work, and is Uber obliged to find work for them?

        => NO, the driver can stop when they want, this is a pointer towards SELF employment. [Para 43 in the judgement.]

        3) Right of control - does Uber control "what", "how", "where" and "when" work is done?

        => YES, given that a driver accepts a job, Uber tells them what to do, where to go, and when. [Starting from para 47.]

        4) Provision of own equipment - does Uber provide the equipment?

        => NO, the driver provides his car (though Uber provides the app, the car is the key here). [Para 44.]

        5) Financial risk/ablity to profit - is the driver's profit the same, irrespective of their efficiency?

        => NO, if they drive a shorter / faster route, using less petrol, they make more profit.

        6) Part and parcel of the organisation - does the driver look like an Uber employee?

        => NO, I'd say, though you could argue YES [Para 66]

        7) In business on their own account - does the driver only use Uber?

        => NO, I'd suspect that most drivers use multiple similar apps concurrently, whereas most employees only work for a single employer, or at least don't work for 2 employers concurrently.

        [However para 34 suggests that actually most divers are sole operators, which is a surprise, so maybe this should be a YES.]

        Whilst it's not completely clear cut, on balance I'd say that Uber drivers are not employees as they don't have to accept work and can work for others simultaneously.

        Whilst I agree that the contract is full of shocking weasel words, I suspect there's a moderate chance Uber will win at appeal.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: How to classify workers

          "most d[r]ivers are sole operators, which is a surprise"

          Why should it be? Were you expecting them to register companies?

          My worry about this, academic given that I'm retired, is that HMRC will find stuff in here to tighten the IR35 screw tighter. Most case law regarding employment seems to arise from instances where individuals were trying to claim employment rights and consequently is loaded against those trying to claim that they're not employed. There is a rightful place in the UK economy for the flexibility that freelance provides but if that's to continue there needs to be a clear definition of that status which protects those using it but which defends lower paid workers against exploitation.

        2. Mage Silver badge

          Re: How to classify workers

          The being an Employee factors out way the Self Employed factors, so to be sure of winning Uber would have to have almost no characteristics of being an Employer. Uber is Taxi operator operating by piece work / bodyshop. It will be travesty of justice and morally wrong if they win on appeal.

        3. sugerbear

          Re: How to classify workers

          "4) Provision of own equipment - does Uber provide the equipment?

          => NO, the driver provides his car (though Uber provides the app, the car is the key here). [Para 44.]"

          You could argue that Uber provide the equipment in the form of software to be able to perform the job.

          "2) Mutuality of obligation - Is the driver obliged to turn up for work, and is Uber obliged to find work for them?"

          They are not obliged to but not turning up for work means they are penalized and other more regular drivers are favoured for fares.

          A am pretty sure they are a cab firm as they set the terms and conditions and prices and have direct contact with the customer up front, they aren't providing a service to the cab driver that enables the cab driver to set fares.

  13. RonWheeler

    Don't like the terms?

    Don't be a driver and go do a different job.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Don't like the terms?

      Nobody works crap jobs because they have other choices.

    2. William 3 Bronze badge

      Re: Don't like the terms?

      What a commendable attitude you have. I take it that if I loitered outside your house throwing pebbles at your window and when you come out to complain I can simply say "don't like me doing this, move home" and you won't have a problem.

      What am I thinking, of course, you'll just move home won't you. Don't forget, I have a contract I forced you into signing, that says I can throw pebbles at your window. And we all know how much you love contracts, ain't that right.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uber

    Racketeers

  15. bazza Silver badge

    As others have pointed out if things like VAT became applicable then it'll kill Uber' business model.

    Here's a few other things they'd need to pay for. HR, recruitment, third party liability insurance, offices to house those things, staff background checks, car maintenance, car purchase, MoT checks, VAT and all the other taxes and minicab operator licensing to name but a few. And they'd then have to operate like a minicab service, not like the black cab picking up randomly in the street.

    After all, if they employ the staff then they're an employer, and are therefore liable for the full business costs of employing them and running the business.

    In short, I can't see Uber surviving this in the UK. I can't see their appeal succeeding, given the damning and unequivocal nature of the initial judgement. And with their costs rocketing skywards there's no profit to be made.

    So whilst we're in the mood for overturning distasteful USAian business and employment practises that have been found to be riding rough-shod over our own customs and laws, how about someone finally getting round to challenging Apple about their refusal to honour the statutory 2 year warranty on consumer electronics?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Can't survive this in UK

      Nor anywhere else with EU or EU like employment and tax laws.

      "how about someone finally getting round to challenging Apple about their refusal to honour the statutory 2 year warranty on consumer electronics?"

      Fined in Italy, if Apple retail then they have to comply with SOGA in all of EU and many other places. Two years is the minimum it should "work" for the liability is 4 to 6 years for any claims or consequential damages, depending on Country. Covers incorrect description literature, adverts, website or box. All have to accurately describe the product. Design faults, manufacturing defects, mysterious failures or wearing out in "reasonable" usage. Since the battery isn't user replaceable consumable, they have to cover it. If it was easily popped out then they could call it a consumable with no warranty. The charger, cables, earphones etc supplied with phone OR separately BY Apple have same SOGA as the phone. Only things like light bulbs or user replaceable battery would be exempt from two years, though they would have to be fit for purpose.

      Similarly it has to be "fit for purpose", i.e. it should work as well as any phone for actual phone calls, held in any normal fashion, without the earphones.

  16. d3vy Silver badge

    @gall

    "- if your agent can drop in a replacement for you, you're not a specialist unique worker, so you're not self-employed. "

    Actually a substitution clause is one of the most important things to have in a contract to prove that you are NOT an employee..

    Think about it, if you fancy a week off can you send your (equally qualified) mate in to do your job? No. But self employed people can.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      The point @gall was making is that where you are engaging someone who has special skills that very few people have, the right of substitution isn't applicable. You are engaging them to make use of those skills, and you don't want someone else who doesn't have those skills turning up to do the job. Where the person has generic skills that lots of people have, like the ability to drive a car, then right of substitution is important.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Who does the substitution?

        Compare to what happens when an obvious employee calls in sick.

        If the agent says "do the job", you can't/don't want to and so you send in someone else to do the job, then you may be self-employed.

        If the agent says "do the job", you can't/don't want to and so the agent sends in someone else to do the job, then you are likely to be an employee of the agent.

  17. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Oh noes!

    But this is teh Internets! Everyone is supposed to do all the work to keep it running for free!

    Next week: Uber pay for their drivers by forcing them to have their cars wrapped in garish adverts. Drivers ordered not to take any fares wearing sunglasses.

  18. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "This means that Uber's previous position, that its drivers were self-employed and therefore not entitled to anything other than their 75 per cent share of passengers' fares, has been overturned and the company must now pay them the British minimum wage."

    That's the crucial CRUCIAL *CRUCIAL* part. If Uber were a taxi radio control centre as they are claiming, then the drivers would get ***100%*** of the fares, and the drivers would pay a radio rental fee to Uber. But no, the passenger purchases the services from Uber and Uber pays the drivers a fraction of what Uber charge their (ie, *UBER'S* customer).

    It looks like a private hire fleet, walks like a private hire fleet and quacks like a private hire fleet. Idiotically, they've even predicated their argument that they should not be treated as a private hire fleet on repeatedly describing in detail their operational model, which is that of a private hire fleet.

    1. Adrian Tawse

      No, you are wrong. the crucial test is one of control. If you are a driver for a private hire fleet you can be told to pick up Mr X from Y and take him to Z. If you decline you are in breach of your employment contract. If you are an Uber driver you can accept the booking of decline. Control is the first test of employment, not reimbursement. The Employment Tribunal is completely wrong.

  19. johnnymotel

    Self driving cars and uber

    This is such a joke. Massive and I mean massive changes will have to happen to our streets and roads to allow safe driverless cars. No human driver means the car will have to react to every single danger or obstacle in an ultra safe and appropriate manner.

    Cue kids playing chicken and winning every time. Traffic comes to a standstill.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Self driving cars and uber

      I agree. In industrial situation humans and the general public are kept well away from dangerous moving parts with barriers, interlocks etc.

      Now we are gonna let heavy machines hurtle along within a few feet or cm of kids walking to school.

      1. Richard 26

        "Now we are gonna let heavy machines hurtle along within a few feet or cm of kids walking to school."

        They do that already.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "They do that already."

          Yes, but those are heavy machines operated by a *legally liable* human driver.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "Yes, but those are heavy machines operated by a *legally liable* human driver."

            The number of kids mown down by those legally liable drivers is uncomfortably high. A robot is paying 100% attention 100% of the time, not looking in the back seat at fighting children, eating cereal at the wheel or screaming abuse at the driver in the next lane for having the temerity to want to merge.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              100% attention 100% of the time

              "A robot is paying 100% attention 100% of the time, "

              A perfectly designed, perfectly tested, perfectly manufactured, and perfectly maintained bug-free robot might be.

              A typical designer/tester/mechanic isn't paying 100% attention 100% of the time, they might be thinking about their fighting children, or screaming abuse at the pair-programer (is that still a thing?) in the next seat for having the temerity to want to merge. Kind of thing.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Self driving cars and uber

      "Cue kids playing chicken and winning every time. Traffic comes to a standstill."

      As with human drivers, robots can and will be programmed to move slowly forward and nudge their way through.

      And that's without the factor of the passengers getting out and forcing the issue. They're not helplessly locked inside the vehicle and they're likely to be pissed off.

      (In the rural areas where I was a kid it was common practise for someone to get out and walk in front of the car if you were confronted with a mob of 5-10,000 sheep on the road that wouldn't let vehicles though. Sheep that are regularly moved on roads learn to get out of the way of cars so it wasn't always necessary)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I feel like...

    we're missing a key point here.

    These people WANT to work for Uber and chose to work for Uber. Why? Because it clearly suited them and now decide to bite the hand that feeds them.

    There is nothing stopping these people from going to a normal taxi company.

    Something doesn't seem right here....

    1. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: I feel like...

      "we're missing a key point here."

      You could say the same thing about Sports directs warehouse staff.... but the law would disagree with you.

      Fact is regardless of what conditions they agreed to in their contracts Uber appears to be operating a potentially illegal business model where they are using loopholes in employment law to pay their employees* below minimum wage.

      * Yes I understand the issue is that Uber doesnt class them as employees, but that doesnt mean that they are not.

  21. Adrian Tawse

    Employment?

    If you are an employee you agree to be under the control of the employer. You have set conditions of employment, you are not permitted to refuse to do anything you are employed to do, with the exception of anything illegal, immoral, etc. I was under the impression that an Uber driver just receives a message requesting a pickup which he may decide to respond to, or decline, as the mood suits him. I see no control from Uber in this arrangement, so the test for employment fails at the hurdle. Or have I completely misunderstood how Uber works? I am concerned that there seems to be little in the way of tests that the Uber driver is suitably licensed and insured, but that has nothing to do with employment.

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