A London Employment Tribunal has ruled that Uber drivers are to be classed as “workers” and not self-employed as previously described. The verdict has been closely monitored by companies and individuals across the world and is likely to lead to a significant change in the way businesses similar to Uber are run.

Uber launched in San Francisco in 2009 and has since expanded worldwide covering 66 different countries. Its popularity has been put down to the convenience to users being able to book and pay for a taxi through a few simple steps on their app. The app allows them to track the progress of their driver as well as rate their experience. Passengers have also often found that fares through Uber are cheaper than their local taxi firms.

Despite its popularity, Uber’s ride has been far from smooth over the last few years. Not all countries have been accepting of their services with Germany banning drivers from Berlin. 2014 also saw taxi drivers in cities across the world, including London, stage large scale protests against the company. This latest ruling could have severe ramifications not only for Uber and their drivers but also for other companies that benefit from what has been called the “gig” economy.

On Friday 29th of October 2016, the Tribunal’s decision was announced stating that Uber drivers must now be classed as workers and not self-employed following a case brought by two UK Uber drivers. The decision means that all Uber drivers will now be entitled to the benefits seen by workers which include holiday pay, rest breaks and entitlement to earn the National Living Wage. They won’t, however, be classed as “employees” which means that they will not be entitled to statutory redundancy pay or have protection from unfair dismissal.

In an age of the “gig” economy, this decision has been seen as monumental and ground-breaking and could trigger similar cases being brought against other companies who work within a similar employment framework. It goes without saying that other branches within Uber’s worldwide network will also be affected in the long run as will their food delivery service, UberEats but another company that has been frequently mentioned in this debate has been Deliveroo. Deliveroo has recently been involved in major employment disputes so this recent news will is likely to manifest itself in similar employment claims.

It is also possible that delivery companies such as Yodel, Hermes and UK Mail may need to look into how they classify their workers.

Whatever the consequences, one thing is for sure, employment law is changing within today’s digital world. If you are unsure of your employment status, please get in touch with one of our highly trained and experienced employment law professionals who can provide expert and up to date advice and guidance on a range of employment issues.