Updated: Feb 26
Ride-sharing firm Uber are being accused of attempting to “dodge the Supreme Court’s ruling” which made a final judgement on workers’ rights for those driving for the company.
Andy McDonald, Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights, made the claims during a parliamentary discussion made public.
McDonald addressed Uber’s reaction to the court’s decision, saying: “Uber is attempting to dodge the Supreme Court’s ruling, just as it attempts to dodge its responsibilities to its drivers, by trying to interpret the ruling so it applies to only a tiny minority of its workforce.”
The United Kingdom Supreme Court handed the victory to Uber drivers in their six-year battle for worker rights including the right to earn the minimum wage and holiday pay.
Tens of thousands of Uber drivers can now claim the right to be classed as workers after the Supreme Court handed down its judgment, but McDonald claims that the company is trying to avoid a mass claim by its drivers.
Uber claimed that drivers are ‘partners’ and so not entitled to the rights normally given to workers, such as paid holiday and the right to be paid at least the minimum wage. However, the Supreme Court agreed with the Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal that drivers are ‘workers’ rather than self-employed independent contractors.
McDonald is now concerned that Uber will ignore the ruling and “cheat” tens of thousands of workers out of their rights, which he says will force “low-paid and precarious workers to spend time and money that they can ill afford in order to litigate to recover withheld wages, in cases that they will likely win but will take years to conclude”.
McDonald went on to ask the Government if they would be taking steps to ensure that the Supreme Court’s judgement would apply to all Uber drivers, rather than just a small minority, as he claims Uber have suggested.
In response, Paul Scully, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) Minister of State (London), said the Government were clear that everybody deserves to be treated fairly at work.
He added: “The judgement has been laid down and there are no further avenues for appeal, so Uber must respond accordingly.
”We are committed to continuing to look at workers’ rights, and to ensure that we consider carefully and in the round all the questions about the various workers’ rights, while keeping flexibility in our employment market.”
The final judgement by the Supreme Court has been welcomed by a number of parliamentary members, including Wes Streeting, Shadow Minister for Education and Schools, and David Johnston, Conservative representative for Wantage, who said the business model of firms such as Uber can create “staff retention” problems.
Johnston said: “I welcome the Supreme Court’s judgement. Companies such as Uber can provide well-regarded flexibility, but they can also have staff retention problems globally.”
He went on to say companies such as Uber should look at the judgement and, rather than try to find ways around it, look at what they can change that will, among other things, ”likely help them keep their people for longer”.