Uber drivers face sack with no employment rights

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Sep 25, 2017
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Uber drivers do not enjoy the protected status of employees

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As many as 40,000 Uber drivers in London could be out of jobs with no recourse to employment law because they continue to be classed as “workers”, lawyers predicted last week.

On Friday Transport for London (TfL)  took the surprise decision not to renew the raid-hailing business’s licence to operate in the capital.

Officials at company pledged to appeal the ruling, and they are reported to have instructed Hogan Lovells, the transatlantic law firm.

Nick Elwell-Sutton, a partner at Clyde & Co, another City of London law firm, said that the case highlighted the vulnerability of gig economy workers. “There will be no right to a redundancy payment and no obligation to consult. Instead, Uber just needs to serve contractual notice to terminate.”

Sarah Calderwood, a partner at the Manchester law firm Slater Heelis, agreed that the drivers’ worker status would leave them vulnerable.

“Workers are entitled to various rights but do not enjoy the protected status of employees. This means that if Uber decides to end their arrangement with the London drivers, the drivers will not be able to bring unfair dismissal claims, will not be able to claim statutory redundancy pay and will not be entitled to any notice pay, unless their contract with Uber provides for this,” she said.

However, she added that out-of-work Uber drivers would be entitled to accrued but untaken holiday pay and any back-pay that was owed.

Lawyers at another London law firm, Leigh Day, had threatened TfL with legal action if it did not impose conditions on Uber's private hire vehicle operator’s licence.

"We challenged Transport for London over its decision to provide Uber with a licence to operate in London, without ensuring that workers’ rights are properly protected and that the company is operated responsibly within the city,” Rosa Curling, a lawyer at the firm, said.

“Today’s decision is a clear indication that TfL agrees; it has decided Uber London Ltd as a company is not fit to provide its services in London.”

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