Self-employment in the UK is increasing rapidly but not necessarily, by choice. Many workers such as mini-cab drivers, couriers, hairdressers and others are put on contracts describing them as self-employed whereas they are, in reality, employed or have worker status.
Self-employed people have no employment rights whereas employed or worker status gives individuals employment rights such as the national minimum wage and holiday pay and if employed for two years or more, unfair dismissal rights. The test of employed/self-employment status is one of control. The more autonomous a person is in how they do the job, the more likely they are to be self-employed.
The Uber drivers’ tribunal claims against Uber for a declaration that they are employees/workers follow similar claims against courier companies (no reported decision yet). If the Uber drivers are successful in showing that they are ‘falsely’ self-employed, then this could have major repercussions for Uber and other companies which rely on self-employed status. Similar claims in other industries will, doubtless, follow.
Alternatively, the tribunal may determine that Uber drivers are workers but on zero hours contracts (without exclusivity clauses) and with no obligation to provide or accept work.
Uber considers drivers self-employed “partners”, however, GMB claims they should be considered employees and have rights as workers, such as minimum wage, mandatory breaks and paid leave.