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Uber loses legal battle against taxi drivers

Uber could be hit with a string of compensation claims after it lost its latest court appeal.

The taxi giant has been in a long running legal battle with its drivers over whether they should be classed as workers or contractors.

In 2016, an employment tribunal ruled that the drivers were in fact workers. That ruling was upheld by an employment appeal tribunal and later by the Court of Appeal.

However, the Uber legal team took the case to the Supreme Court, where they argued that the drivers did not undertake work for Uber, but were independent third-party contractors, and therefore not entitled to workers rights.

Sarah Naylor, employment law specialist, commented: “The Supreme Court decision is final. Uber has exhausted all the legal avenues now, and so must provide drivers with guaranteed employment rights and benefits.”

Sarah added: “These rights include statutory sick pay, national minimum wage, paid holidays and regular breaks.

“It is a landmark decision which will no doubt be welcomed by millions of people employed in the gig economy, who may also decide to pursue their rights as workers.”

The gig economy is a popular term for those employed on short-term contracts or doing freelance work and carrying out several jobs, or gigs. Growth in this area has been accelerated by Covid-19.

Speaking after the ruling, Mark Cairns, a London based Uber driver, commented: “It’s been a long time coming, but I’m delighted that we’ve finally got the victory we deserve.

“Being an Uber driver can be stressful. They can ban you from driving for them at the drop of a hat and there is no appeal process.

“At the very least, we should have the same rights as other workers and I’m very glad I’m part of the claim.”

The ruling could see thousands of Uber drivers eligible to claim around £12,000 in compensation.

If this ruling affects you or you have any issue regarding your employment rights, call us on 01302 320621 or email info@athertongodfrey.co.uk 

 

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Employment and coronavirus update

There is no doubt that major changes will be needed in order to help businesses survive. Given the severity of the current situation, your employer may have to take cost saving measures.

Where possible, it might be best to agree certain, perhaps temporary measures with your employer – it could help to safeguard your job.

However, these commonly raised questions may help to clarify your legal position:

Can I be made to use some of next year’s holiday entitlement to help cover some of the time I have to take off work?
Your employer cannot force you to do this – in each leave year there are a statutory minimum number of days that must be taken.

Can my travel expenses be removed?
If paid travel expenses form part of your employment contract they cannot be removed without your consent.

Can my employer reduce my normal working hours because there’s little or no work?
Hours are a contractual right, so unless there is a lay off or short time working clause in your contract, or you have a zero hour’s contract, your hours cannot be reduced without your agreement.

Can I be made to take unpaid leave?
If you need to take time off to care for dependents it can be taken as unpaid. If there is not enough work for you, unless there is a lay off clause in your contract, your employer should continue to pay you.

 

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Ethnicity pay gap reporting could help tackle disparities

The government has revealed that it plans to tackle the ethnicity pay gap in a range of measures, which could include mandatory reporting in much the same way as the gender pay gap is reported.

This move would force companies employing more than 250 people to report the difference in wages between ethnic groups as well as between men and women.

The proposals come on the back of a report by the Greater London Authority that found there was a pay gap of as much as 37 per cent among public service employees in the capital.

Other measures to tackle disparities include increasing diversity among prison offers, backing education schemes for ethnic minority lawyers and introducing targeted support into employment schemes in selected areas across the UK.

Prime minister, Theresa May  said that ethnic minority employees feel that they are “hitting a brick wall when it comes to career progression” and added that senior management teams throughout UK organisations must reflect the workplaces that they manage.

Kelly Tolhurst, minister for small business, consumers and corporate responsibility, commented: “Our working population is increasingly diverse with more individuals from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds entering the workforce.

By understanding and taking action to overcome the barriers faced by all ethnic groups in the workplace, we can put diversity at the heart of how we do business and do right by all working people”.

There are also calls across organisations such as NHS, armed forces, schools and police forces for the government to back increased recruitment of ethnic minority leaders.

The Confederation of British Industry has given a cautious welcome to plan. Chief UK policy director, Matthew Fell, said: “Transparency can be a catalyst for action in tackling the ethnicity pay gap, in the same way that it has been so successful for gender. But reporting must be done in a way that is supported by both businesses and employees.”

Consultation on the proposals will run until January 2019.

Author: Gail Harris