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Worker status

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Following last years Employment Tribunal decision that Uber drivers were workers rather than self-employed, Uber’s appeal hearing at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) concluded today.

Uber argued that it is not part of the gig economy and stood its ground, arguing that its drivers are self-employed. Such status does not entitle them to benefits such as holiday pay, minimum wage and statutory sick pay. Uber is vigorously defending the claim to avoid an expected liability of £17million should they lose. Even if they lose at the EAT, this may not be the end of the matter, since Uber could appeal to the Court of Appeal and then further to the Supreme Court.

Judy Eady QC has reserved judgment. One may think this means the future of the gig economy is uncertain. However, this is unlikely to be the case when leading brands such as IKEA are getting in on the action. IKEA is reported to have acquired app entity TaskRabbit which links tradespeople with customers. The tradespeople operate on a self employed basis, selecting when and where they work and dictating their pay.

It therefore appears that worker status as a legal concept is set to remain in the news for a while longer.