Theresa May

Uber minicab drivers cautious about PM’s promises on worker rights

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Today the Prime Minister outlined a 10 point plan to protect worker rights as part of the Conservative Party manifesto. We particularly welcome the pledge to guarantee the rights of workers under EU law after BREXIT. This is important as it is EU law that upholds the rights of workers who are self employed but nevertheless under effective control by a hiring company.

Last year the Central London Employment Tribunal held that Uber drivers are workers and are therefore entitled to worker protections including the right to holiday pay and to earn at least the minimum wage for every hour logged on to the Uber platform. Unfortunately, Uber has decided to appeal this ruling which ties up the fate of some of Britain's lowest paid workers in the courts for years.

We are concerned that the PM has promised to act on the findings of the Taylor review which are not expected to be published until after the General Election. Matthew Taylor has said that Purdah prevents him from outlining the specific recommendations he expects to make. We simply cannot take this manifesto pledge at face value, the PM must outline now the specific measures her government would take to protect gig workers. In addition, UPHD has previously expressed concern about the level of inappropriate access and influence Uber has sought to have to the the Taylor review:

But all of this amounts to nothing if workers continue to be stymied in their access to legal remedy. The government has done next to nothing to proactively police the labour market, it has effectively choked off access to Employment Tribunals with exorbitant fees and the burden of proof is placed squarely on the shoulders of workers. Further, the applicability of any one decision can be frustrated by unscrupulous employers. For example, Uber continues to insist that the Employment Tribunal ruling against it applies only to the individuals who brought the case and not all Uber drivers.

James Farrar, Founder of United Private Hire Drivers and lead claimant said:

Britain needs strong and stable labour markets so the Prime Minister's promise to guarantee in domestic law worker rights currently provided under EU law is most welcome. However, the biggest problem workers face in the gig economy today, especially Uber drivers, is not a deficit in law but in the failure of the government to enforce the law. Gig economy employers such as Uber have been allowed to run rough shod over long established worker rights and the government has shown little appetite to to reign them in. Workers have been left to do their own heavy lifting in trying to bring these actors to account, against the odds, in the Employment Tribunal system. Left unchecked, this bottom feeding in the labour market not only presents a tragedy for the workers involved but it destroys the productivity and the stable development of the labour market over the longer term. Without a strong commitment to enforce employment laws and realistic access to remedy these new promises will quickly become hollow.

 

Contacts:

James Farrar 07530 319206

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