Despite a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court last week that the Uber drivers involved in legal action against the company are workers entitled to rights, the company is still telling the rest of its 60,000 drivers that they are self-employed.
A text message sent to drivers after the ruling said that “a small number of drivers from 2016 can be classified as workers, but this judgment does not apply to drivers who earn on the app today”.
More than 10,000 drivers had their cases linked to the Supreme Court hearing, which said they were entitled to the minimum wage, holiday pay and rest breaks and were thus owed compensation for the rights they did not receive.
It is expected that the overall payout to these workers could reach over £100m.
James Heywood, the company’s General Manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, whose name was attached to the message telling drivers who were not directly involved in the case they had no rights, justified his actions by saying the company had made changes to its contract in recent years.
But Leigh Day, the law firm acting on behalf of thousands of Uber drivers, said the message was just another part of Uber’s long-running campaign of misclassifying its workers.
“There is no way they can say ‘this doesn’t apply’ with confidence,” Nigel Mackay, a Partner at Leigh Day, told the Guardian.
“To suggest that the changes they talk about have any impact on the Supreme Court findings, the effect of that is very misleading. Uber is trying to deter people from the claim with this message.”
New cases are expected to be brought to Employment Tribunal if Uber chooses to continue treating its drivers as ‘self-employed’ and lawyers involved these cases believe all drivers will be found to have rights.
Andrew Nugent Smith, Managing Director of Keller Lenkner, which is also representing thousands of drivers, said “we are confident that drivers must still be treated as workers”.