The Uber assertion that drivers are "partners" who are not entitled to rights at work normally afforded to workers will be legally contested in court says GMB
GMB, the union for professional drivers, has instructed Leigh Day to take legal action in the UK on behalf of members driving for Uber on the grounds that Uber is in breach of a legal duty to provide them with basic rights on pay, holidays, health and safety and on discipline and grievances.
GMB is contesting the Uber assertion that drivers are "partners" so are not entitled to rights normally afforded to workers.
Uber operates a car hire platform that connects passengers to thousands of drivers through an app on the passenger’s smartphone.
Using the app, passengers can request they are picked up from any location within London (or 300 other cities worldwide). Passengers pay Uber for the journey, which then passes on a percentage of that payment to the driver.
GMB claim that Uber should conform to employment law as follows:
· Uber should ensure that its drivers are paid the national minimum wage and that they receive their statutory entitlement to paid holiday. Currently Uber does not ensure these rights for its drivers
· Uber should address serious health and safety issues. Currently Uber does not ensure its drivers take rest breaks or work a maximum number of hours per week. GMB content that this provides a substantial risk to all road users given that, according to Uber’s CEO, there will be 42,000 Uber drivers in London in 2016.
· Uber should adhere to legal standards on discipline and grievances. Currently drivers have being suspended or deactivated by Uber after having made complaints about unlawful treatment, without being given any opportunity to challenge this.
Nigel Mackay, a lawyer in the employment team at Leigh Day, said "The Uber assertion that drivers are "partners" who are not entitled to rights at work normally afforded to workers is being contested.
Uber not only pays the drivers but it also effectively controls how much passengers are charged and requires drivers to follow particular routes. As well as this, it uses a ratings system to assess drivers’ performance.
We believe that it’s clear from the way Uber operates that it owes the same responsibilities towards its drivers as any other employer does to its workers. In particular, its drivers should not be denied the right to minimum wage and paid leave.
Uber should also take responsibility for its drivers, making sure they take regular rest breaks.
If Uber wishes to operate in this way, and to reap the substantial benefits, then it must acknowledge its responsibilities towards its drivers and the public.
A successful legal action against Uber could see substantial pay outs for drivers, including compensation for past failures by the company to make appropriate payments to who we argue are their workers."
Steve Garelick, Branch Secretary of GMB Professional Drivers Branch, said "The need for a union to defend working drivers’ rights has become an imperative.
Operators like Uber must understand that they have an ethical and social policy that matches societies’ expectations of fair and honest treatment.
For far too long the public have considered drivers as almost ‘ghosts". They are not seen as educated or with the same needs, aspirations and desires as the rest of the public."