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The app-based company Uber, who operate as a taxi booking service is facing legal action following claims that the company is failing to provide basic rights to its drivers.
The firm, which has been expanding to cities across the world, has been accused by the GMB union, which represents a number of professional drivers in London and the UK. The union are set to challenge Uber’s claim that drivers are partners rather than employees. GMB has stated that by stating drivers are partners, the company its breaching its duties on pay, holidays and health and safety.
According to Uber however, if they made their drivers employees, it would mean that the role would become much more flexible, and make the job less appealing.
Uber’s success across London has been similar to many other cities in the world. In May, Transport for London reported the number of private hire vehicle licences had increased from 52,000 to 77,000 over the previous 12 months with the vast majority of the increase coming as a result of the success of Uber. The company describes themselves as a “pick up” service that links those requiring a lift to a private driver, with the driver taking 20% of the fee.
Nigel Mackay a solicitor working on behalf of GMB believes that by taking legal action it could result in "substantial payouts" for drivers. He said: "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."
Steve Garelick said: "Operators like Uber must understand that they have an ethical and social policy that matches society's expectations of fair and honest treatment."
An Uber spokesman said: "One of the main reasons drivers use Uber is because they love being their own boss.
"As employees, drivers would drive set shifts, earn a fixed hourly wage, and lose the ability to drive elsewhere as well as the personal flexibility they most value."
The announcement of legal action from GMB comes following a decision in California which deemed that a Uber driver was in fact an employee. However, Uber stated that this only the case with one driver and was not the norm. However, this may not be the case in the UK.
Regardless of the type of contract held by an employee, there are certain legal rights that cannot be taken away. Employees have the right to the national minimum wage, paid holiday, maternity and paternity leave and the right to not have an illegal deduction made on payslips. However, some workers operating on a freelance or other type of contract may not be entitled to certain statutory rights.
If you are self employed you do not have the same rights as a worker as you take responsibility for the business and the success or failure of it. However, they must take care of themselves and work in an adequate environment and not face discrimination or encourage it in the workplace. Rights must also be laid out in contracts of employment.
It is argued that currently Uber are failing to provide these statutory rights to workers. Currently, Uber do not pay their employees the minimum wage but rather a stake of the fare they accumulate when driving. This means however, that if they do not work, they will not earn any wage.
If your employer is failing to provide you with basic rights or if you are being harassed in the workplace, you have the right to take legal action and potentially claim compensation. Contact us today using our online contact form.