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Journal European Employment Law Cases x

    The Supreme Court (SC) has unanimously decided that drivers engaged by Uber are workers rather than independent contractors. It also decided that drivers are working when they are signed in to the Uber app and ready to work.


Colin Leckey
Colin Leckey is a partner at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    The German Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, ‘BAG’) has ruled that the user of an online platform (‘crowdworker’) who takes on so-called ‘microjobs’ on the basis of a framework agreement concluded with the platform operator (‘crowdsourcer’) can be an employee of the crowdsourcer. This applies in a case where the framework agreement is aimed at a repeated acceptance of such microjobs. The decisive factor is whether the crowdworker performs work that is subject to instructions and is determined by third parties in the context of the actual performance of the contractual relationship. The name of the contract is irrelevant. One assumes an employment relationship if the crowdsourcer controls the collaboration via an online platform operated by them in such a way that the crowdworker cannot freely shape their activity in terms of place, time and content.


Katharina Gorontzi
Katharina Gorontzi, LLM, is a senior associate at Luther lawfirm in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Jana Voigt
Jana Voigt is a senior associate at Luther lawfirm in Dusseldorf, Germany.

    The UK Employment Tribunals and England and Wales Court of Appeal (case [2018] EWCA Civ 2748) have ruled that any Uber driver who has the Uber App switched on, is in the territory where he/she is authorised to work, and is able and willing to accept assignments, is working for Uber under a worker contract. The UK courts disregarded some of the provisions of Uber’s driver agreement. They had been entitled to do so because the relevant provisions of the driver agreement did not reflect the reality of the bargain made between the parties. The fact that Uber interviews and recruits drivers, controls the key information, requires drivers to accept trips, sets the route, fixes the fare, imposes numerous conditions on drivers, determines remuneration, amends the driver’s terms unilaterally, and handles complaints by passengers, makes it a transportation or passenger carrier, not an information and electronic technology provider. Therefore the UK courts resolved the central issue of for whom (Uber) and under a contract with whom (Uber), drivers perform their services. Uber is a modern business phenomenon. Regardless of its special position in business, Uber is obliged to follow the rules according to which work is neither a commodity nor an online technology.


Andrzej Świątkowski
Andrzej Marian Świątkowski is a professor at Jesuit University Ignatianum in Krakow. ((ORCID: 0000-0003-1753-7810))

Noten


Thomas Dullinger
Univ.-Ass. Mag. Thomas Dullinger is associated with Institut für Arbeits- und Sozialrecht, Universität Wien.

    Following an appeal by Uber against the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s (EAT) finding last year, which was featured in EELC 2018/9, that drivers engaged by Uber are ‘workers’ rather than independent contractors (reported in EELC 2018-1), the Court of Appeal (CA) has now upheld the EAT’s decision. The CA also upheld the finding of the Employment Tribunal (ET), which was featured in EELC 2017/10, that drivers are working when they are signed into the Uber app and ready to work (reported in EECL 2017-1). Uber has approximately 40,000 drivers (and about 3.5 million users of its mobile phone application in London alone) and so this decision has potentially significant financial consequences for the company.


Jemma Thomas
Jemma Thomas is a Senior Associate Solicitor at Lewis Silkin LLP.

    In a recent decision, the Labour Court awarded an employee € 7,500 for working in excess of 48 hours a week, contrary to working time legislation. The complainant allegedly regularly checked and responded to emails outside of business hours, occasionally after midnight. The Labour Court reiterated it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that employees are not permitted to work beyond the statutory maximum period and that if an employer is aware that an employee is working excessive hours, must take steps to curtail this.


Lucy O’Neill
Lucy O’Neill is an attorney-at-law at Mason Hayes & Curran in Dublin, Ireland.

    The Oporto Court of Appeal held that the employee’s availability 24 hours per day, 6 days per week, breaches the employee’s right to rest. However, such breach does not qualify the availability periods as overtime. The Court also found that the continuous use of a GPS system breached the employee’s right to privacy.


Dora Joana
Dora Joana is a managing associate with SRS Advogados, Lisbon.
Case Reports

2018/9 Uber’s work status appeal rejected (UK)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2018
Keywords Miscellaneous, Employment status
Authors Laetitia Cooke
AbstractAuthor's information

    Following an appeal by Uber against an employment tribunal (ET) finding last year, which was featured in EELC 2017/10, that its drivers are ‘workers’ and not self-employed contractors (reported in EELC 2017-1), the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has now upheld the ET’s original decision. The EAT rejected Uber’s arguments that it was merely a technology platform, as well as its statement that it did not provide transportation services. This decision is important as it means that Uber drivers are entitled to certain rights under UK law, such as the right to holiday pay, to the national minimum wage (NMW) and protection against detrimental treatment for ‘blowing the whistle’ against malpractice. Uber has approximately 40,000 drivers (and about 3.5 million users of its mobile phone application in London alone) and so this decision has potentially significant financial consequences for the company.


Laetitia Cooke
Laetitia Cooke is an Associate at Lewis Silkin LLP.
ECJ Court Watch

ECJ 20 December 2017, case C-434/15 (Uber Spain), Employment status

Asociación Profesional Élite Taxi – v – Uber Systems Spain SL, Spanish case

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2018
Keywords Employment status
Abstract

    The overall degree of control which the Uber platform exercises over the workforce does not suggest that it acts merely as an intermediary. The services Uber provides fall within the field of transport within the meaning of EU law and not under the freedom to provide services. It is therefore for the Member States to regulate the conditions under which such services are to be provided in conformity with the general rules of the TFEU.

    In a much publicised case, Uber drivers have won a first instance employment tribunal finding that they are ‘workers’ and not self-employed contractors. This decision means that they are entitled to basic protections, such as the national minimum wage, paid holiday (under the Working Time Directive) and protection against detriment for ‘blowing the whistle’ on wrong doing. The decision could have substantial financial consequences for Uber, which has around 40,000 drivers in the UK but Uber has already confirmed that it will appeal the decision, so we are unlikely to have a final determination on this question for some time.


Bethan Carney
Bethan Carney is a lawyer at Lewis Silkin LLP: www.lewissilkin.com.
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