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Uber faces first UK legal test over drivers as employers

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on July 21, 2016

From The Sharing Economy Desk

After facing (and mostly settling) multiple lawsuits in the US over the status of its workers, Uber is now facing a legal fight in the UK from drivers who want to be recognized as employees.

The BBC reports that "Uber has been taken to a London employment tribunal by two of its drivers who claim it is acting unlawfully by not offering holiday and sick pay." 

This test cases involves two drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam...

Mr Farrar insisted that his pay was often lower than the national minimum wage. In a witness statement he said that Uber claimed it paid him £13.77 on an average hourly basis, based upon the hours he was logged on to its driver's app. 

But Mr Farrar insisted that his net earnings in August 2015 after expenses amounted to just £5.03 an hour.

The tribunal is chaired by an employment judge and its decision will set legal precedent, meaning that a victory for the two claimants could trigger a flood of claims from other Uber drivers. If Uber has to pay full employment benefits to its drivers in the UK, the company has expressed concern that it will either have to dramatically increase fares or cut back on its service. 

Uber already tried, and failed, to have the case thrown out, arguing that it should not have to face British courts as its European headquarters is in the Netherlands. Critics of Uber have long seen Uber's terror over being forced to treat drivers as employees as proof of the unsustainability of its model. 

The Guardian has described the Uber tribunal as “the case of the year in UK employment law.”