Worried Uber drivers will not have to pay back SEISS payments following shift to 'workers’ status

Worried Uber drivers will not have to pay back self-employed support grants following their recent workers’ rights victory at the Supreme Court.

At a landmark Court ruling last week, Uber drivers were handed basic workers’ rights, which included minimum wage and holiday pay, causing some private hire drivers to become concerned for their self-employed status.

The change in status comes just before the Chancellor of the Exchequer is due to announce further details relating to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is set to announce the value and eligibility criteria of the fourth SEISS payment a the Budget on 3 March.

According to HMRC sources speaking to TaxiPoint, Uber drivers who were eligibile for the first, second and third SEISS grants can keep the grant if they met the eligibility criteria at the time they made their claim. HMRC did however add that they cannot make this decision on behalf of claimants as individual circumstances will need to be considered.

HMRC were unable to comment on questions surrounding eligibility relating to the forthcoming fourth SEISS before details are announced on 3 March.

However, according to taxi and private hire sources, the shift to ‘workers’ status will still mean Uber drivers are classed as self-employed. Private hire drivers will still have to provide a Self-Assessment tax return moving forwards despite receiving basic workers' rights.

Jason Short, an accountant from Short and Sons Accountants Limited, said: “It is important to note it does not change the status of the individual for tax purposes. These workers will remain self-employed.”

Short continues: “For tax purposes, there are only two categories of employment, employed or self-employed.

“Uber drivers will continue to pay tax as self-employed as drivers are free to work when they want and as much or as little as they want. In summary, Uber restated that its drivers are independent contractors who do not work for them directly.”

Reports are suggesting that the Chancellor will continue to pay out Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants worth up to £7,500, as speculation mounts a week before the much anticipated Chancellor’s Budget.

The fourth round of payments will cover February, March and April. There are also reports that the scheme could be dropped from May as COVID restriction measures begin to be eased.

Self-employed workers, which includes tens of thousands of taxi drivers, were able to claim their third Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant from 30 November and had until 29 January 2021 to make the claim.

Support for millions of workers through the third SEISS grant covered November to January and was calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

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