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  • Published:
    28 October
  • Area of Law:

Uber ruling will impact a whole number of other industries

Commenting on the recent Uber ruling, Aye Limbin Glassey, employment partner at Shakespeare Martineau, says:

“The ruling will not only impact Uber but a whole number of other industries and businesses which use self-employed workers. It is by no means the end of the issue - continued pressure from trade unions calling for tighter regulations means that the Uber ruling will likely be a catalyst for further scrutiny.

“The very nature of a business like Uber is the flexibility it offers. However, employment practices cannot be left unregulated and rights of workers and employees cannot be ignored unless businesses are willing and ready to face the backlash of legal and reputational repercussions. It is stark reality that the application of employment rights will often mean that companies are unable to adopt the agility needed to support its success.

“With consumer convenience the driver of many fast-growing businesses, it is likely that we’ll see more businesses of this nature coming to market and using self-employed workers will become a greater concern for companies.
“Regardless of the business structure, having a solid approach in relation to employment rights is crucial. Failing to comply with such regulations will not only result in penalties – it can impact brand reputation hugely.

“Employers are often surprised that employment status can change over time and discrepancies between contractual terms and what working practices are like in reality can open employers up to liabilities. Companies must be alert to these changes, assess the risks and make an informed decision to act or ignore. Uber will have assessed the legalities and merits of the employment tribunal claims and undoubtedly also balanced the convenience and flexibility of sticking with the self employed model against the costs of litigation, large financial awards and reputational damage of ignoring employment rights.

“To identify, assess and avoid risks associated with the use of self-employed individuals in future, all employers need to check that they are keeping robust records for all individuals that are kept up-to-date and that such records detail information such as regularity of work patterns.

“Ideally employers need to be open and honest about the relationship they want to establish with each individual worker from the outset and make sure the correct agreement is struck at the start and maintained appropriately.”

“If employers choose to ignore the reality of the relationship and accept the risk, then they should do so with full knowledge of the implications.”

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