Employment Law Case : Y Aslam, J Farrar & Others Vs. Uber London Ltd

The Employment Tribunal Case of Y Aslam, J Farrar & Others Vs. Uber London Ltd. (Employment Tribunal Case No. 2202550/15) dealing with the Employment Rights Act 1996 has been the most popular and most followed cases in the past year 2016. This case has gained a lot of attention and publicity during the trials.

This case was put forward to the Employment Tribunal on 19 July 2016 by Mr. Y Aslam and J. Farrar for the failure to pay the minimum wage under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and failure to provide paid leave associated with the Working Time Regulations 1998. Following the filing of this case by the Uber drivers, they have complained about the ill treatment by the company as well.

Uber informed the tribunal that as per company’s contractual rules and regulations, they employ the drivers on contractual terms. Hence, they are termed as the self-employed contractors instead of employees. Uber argued with the Tribunal that Uber operates its services through its Uber application and facilitates a swift and easy arrangement to its customers.

Having heard the arguments and the facts put forward by both, the claimants and Uber, Tribunal acknowledged the fact that it is Uber that runs the transportation business and employs drivers for the service to their customers. On the other hand, Mr. Aslam and other claimants do not offer such services. All the proceedings are carried out in the name of Uber and not in the name of drivers. The passengers are introduced by Uber to the drivers. The drivers do not have the right to negotiate the fare charges with the passengers. Instead, they are offered trips and accept the fare charges strictly on Uber’s terms. Moreover, the drivers work on the times decided by Uber and not themselves. The drivers provide their expert skills to Uber; which in turn delivers its services to passengers to make profits.

The Employment Tribunal reviewed the authenticity of the liaison between Uber and drivers and identified the following feature while imparting their decision on the matter.

1) It is the sole discretion of Uber to retain, accept or decline passenger bookings;

2) Uber interviews and recruits its drivers;

3) Uber controls key passenger information and does not disclose the same with its drivers;

4) Uber requires drivers to accept and not to cancel trips – it enforces this by ‘logging off’ drivers who breach these requirements;

5) Uber defines the default route for each trip and it is imperative for the driver to follow the same

6) Uber sets the fare and drivers do not have the rights to negotiate the fare with the passenger;

7) Uber imposes various conditions on drivers (including restrictions to their vehicle choice), instructs drivers as to how to undertake their work and controls the performance of their duties;

8) Uber subjects its drivers to a rating system in what substantially amounts to a performance management/disciplinary procedure;

9) Uber determines rebates to passengers, at times without first consulting the driver, despite the fact it may have a financial impact upon them

10) The guaranteed earnings schemes introduced by Uber now stands discontinued

11) Uber accepts the risk of loss to which its drivers would be liable if they were genuinely self-employed, an example of this would be in the case of fraud;

12) Uber handles passenger complaints, including complaints made against the driver; and

13) Uber reserves the capacity to unilaterally alter its drivers’ terms

Finally, on 28 October 2016, the Employment Tribunal in London (“Tribunal”) ruled that Mr. Aslam and Mr. J. Farrarr would now become ‘workers’ according to their engagement with Uber under the Employment Rights Act 1996 (“Act”), as against to being self-employed drivers, regardless of their contracts.