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What's next for Uber and their drivers?

 

 

We reported back in November 2017 that Uber had lost its appeal at the Employment Appeal Tribunal confirming the decision that two of Uber’s taxi drivers were considered to be workers, with the associated rights that come with that status. Uber tried to leap frog the Court of Appeal and appeal straight to the Supreme Court but this was refused in December 2017 and so the case will now be heard on 20 November 2018 by the Court of Appeal. So where does that leave Uber now?

 

The decision threatens the heart of Uber’s business model that was set up on the basis that self employed drivers who had ultimate autonomy in relation to the work they did through the booking app, would provide the taxi service to the general public.  Cases in relation to the so called “Gig Economy” continue to make their way through the courts but in an interesting development, Uber has recently announced that they are introducing a cap on their drivers’ working hours. 

 

The new cap means that if an Uber driver has been working for 10 hours, they will now be locked out of the app for an enforced six hour break.  Uber claims that they are the first company in the industry to introduce this type of restriction, following consultation with safety experts who advised that an enforced lengthy break would be more beneficial from a health and safety perspective than introducing a limit on the maximum daily or weekly hours that a driver could work.

 

The safety of all workers and their entitlement to rest breaks is something that is entrenched in UK law under the Working Time Regulations 1998.  Workers and employees are usually entitled to rest breaks during their working hours, in addition to daily rest and weekly rest:

 

·         Rest breaks at work – a minimum break of 20 minutes (uninterrupted) if their working day is more than 6 hours long.  This could be paid or unpaid depending on the terms of their contract.

 

·         Daily rest – 11 hours rest between every working day.  This means that if they finish work at 6 p.m., they should generally not start working again until 5 a.m. the following day.

 

·         Weekly rest – it is important to consider what their contract says about breaks from work but the basic position is that a worker will either be entitled to an uninterrupted 24 hours without work every week or an uninterrupted 48 hours without work every 2 weeks.

 

There are exceptions to the basic position including in relation to rest breaks for young workers who are above school leaving age and under 18, shift workers who may be entitled to compensatory rest and lorry drivers who have different rules in relation to the rest breaks they must take for health and safety reasons.

 

Therefore, in addition to the new enforced break from the app, Uber will also need to carefully consider their workers’ entitlement to rest breaks under existing law or risk falling foul of the regulations.

 


Julie Edmonds is Senior Associate at JPC Law.

Please contact her for more information and advice on all employment matters.

E: jedmonds@jpclaw.co.uk

T: 020 7644 7286

General Enquiries:

E: enquiries@jpclaw.co.uk

T: 020 7625 4424 

 

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