It's Friday 28 October 2016, Uber's lawyers step out from a court in London, flip open their phones, and make that dreaded call "we lost!". A huge employment case has gone against them. Two of the ride-hailing firms drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, took on the giants of Silicon Valley, and won. They put a claim forward on behalf of a group 19 Uber workers who argued that they were employed by the San Francisco-based firm, rather than working for themselves. Farrar explained at a earlier hearing in July how he was put under “tremendous pressure” to work long hours and accept jobs and said that there were “repercussions” from the company if he cancelled a pickup. Mr Farrar went on to claim he sometimes made as little as £5 an hour driving for Uber, well under the minimum wage. The decision to vote in favour of employment rights for it's drivers soon left Uber extremely exposed for many more of the drivers working on their platform to put forward the same challenge. Uber had to act fast. They launched an immediate appeal, dragging the case on for a further 12+ months. Uber have always stood firm in their beliefs that it's drivers are self employed which allows them the freedom to work according to their own needs. The ruling meant drivers should be entitled to minimum wage and holiday and sick pay, along with a number of other benefits.
Well tomorrow Uber's appeal reaches it's first milestone when a ruling will be made. If Uber lose round two, it's almost certain they will appeal again, asking for the case to be fast-tracked to the UK's Supreme Court. No doubt many eyes and ears will be tuned in to tomorrow's outcome as a ruling one way or another will either steady the "Gig economy" ship for a while or see it begin to capsize. Who's ship are you on?