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Case Study On Gig Workers: Uber BV v/s Aslam [2021] UKSC 5

Name of the Case: ber BV & Others. V. Aslam & Others.

Facts of the case:
  • The Uber app's rights are controlled by Uber BV, a Dutch enterprise that is the first appellant. Uber London Ltd., the second appellant, is a UK entity that holds a license to operate private rental cars in London. Uber Britannia Ltd., the third appellant, is a UK entity that holds a license to operate similar cars outside of London.
  • The claimants and respondents, who are represented by Mr. James Farrar and Mr. Yaseen Aslam, are people who drive private hire vehicles and accept reservations using the Uber app. There were around 30,000 Uber drivers working in the London region and 40,000 in the UK overall at the time of the employment tribunal hearing in 2016, with two million users registered to use the Uber app as passengers.
  • Uber's Business Model: Uber's app streamlines their business by making trip requests easier, connecting customers and drivers, calculating prices, and enabling anonymous ratings.
  • Written Agreement between Uber and Drivers: Uber is defined in the Services Agreement as a platform that links drivers and passengers, and Uber also serves as an agent for collecting payments. Uber BV is granted authority under clauses 4.2 and 4.3 to modify or cancel fares in response to certain events, such as ineffective routes or passenger complaints, and to alter rate computations depending on market variables.
  • Written Agreement between Uber and Customers: The Rider Terms establish a contractual relationship between Uber and users, acknowledging Uber's role as an intermediary. Under regulatory frameworks like the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, Uber London is obligated to ensure compliance with licensing and record-keeping requirements for private hire services.
  • Uber drivers filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming they deserve to be considered "workers" as opposed to independent contractors. The drivers said that Uber had considerable influence over everything, including price, acceptance of rides, and disciplinary actions. They also emphasized how essential they were to Uber's business plan.
Case Details Appellants:
  1. Uber BV
  2. Uber London Ltd
  3. Uber Britannia Ltd
  1. Yaseen Aslam
  2. James Farrer
  3. Robert Dawson and others
  • [2021] UKSC 5; [2018] EWCA Civ 2748
  • Lord Reed, President
  • Lord Hodge, Deputy President
  • Lady Arden
  • Lord Kitchin
  • Lord Sales
  • Lord Hamblen
  • Lord Leggat

Issues Involved:

  1. Whether the Uber drivers are to be categorized as independent contractors or workers?
  2. Whether the Uber drivers would be entitled to fundamental rights of workers, including minimum wage, holiday pay, and rest periods?
  3. Whether the Uber drivers have autonomy in their work or are they subject to control by the policies and rules laid down by the Uber company?

Laws Involved:
  • Employment's Rights Act, 1996 (UK)iii: Section 230(3) defines workers as:
    • "an individual who has entered into or works under (or, where the employment has ceased, worked under) �
      1. a contract of employment, or
      2. any other contract, whether express or implied
    • and (if it is express) whether oral or in writing, whereby the individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract whose status is not by virtue of the contract that of a client or customer of any profession or business undertaking carried on by the individual; and any reference to a worker's contract shall be construed accordingly."
    A "contract of employment" is defined under section 230(2) of the Act to mean "a contract of service or apprenticeship, whether express or implied, and (if it is express) whether oral or in writing."
  • National Minimum Wage Act, 1998 (UK): The minimum wage that is required to be given to employees in the UK is established by this law. It outlines guidelines for determining the minimum wage rate and outlines employees' entitlements to be paid at least the minimum wage for labour completed.
  • Working Time Regulations, 1998 (UK): These rules control several facets of working hours, such as maximum work hours, rest periods, and employee entitlements to paid yearly leave. By guaranteeing suitable working hours and sufficient rest times, they seek to safeguard the health, safety, and well-being of employees.
  • Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act, 1998 (UK): This Act governs the use of private rental automobiles in London and establishes license requirements for both drivers and cars. It creates guidelines for private hire businesses to guarantee passenger safety and high-quality care.
Arguments by the Appellant:
Uber BV, the appellant in the case of Uber BV v. Aslam & Ors., presented a number of arguments to support its stance on the employment status of Uber drivers. A few of the main points Uber BV makes are as follows:
  • Uber BV contends that rather than being workers or employees, Uber drivers are contractors who are independent. Uber drivers cannot be considered workers under Section 230(3) of the Employment's Rights Act, 1996ix and hence won't be entitled to any benefits under acts providing rights to workers. It states that drivers are free to select when, where, and how frequently they work. Under UK employment law, Uber drivers are not considered entitled to the same perks and privileges as workers because they are independent contractors.
  • Uber BV argues that the connection between 'Uber and its drivers is defined as one between a technological platform provider (Uber) and independent transportation providers (drivers)' in the contractual agreements between the two parties and such contract is not a 'contract of employment'
  • Uber BV highlights the freedom and flexibility drivers have, emphasizing that they may create their own calendars and work as many hours or as less they want to choose. Hence, minimal contract is exercised by the appellants.
  • Uber BV emphasizes the inventiveness of its business strategy and the advantages it has brought to the transportation sector. It makes the case that forcing conventional job categories onto gig economy platforms such as Uber will hinder innovation and reduce the chances for drivers to be paid on their own schedules.

Arguments by the Respondents:
The respondents in Uber BV v. Aslam and Ors., represented by Mr. James Farrar and Mr. Yaseen Aslam, made a number of reasons in favor of their contention that Uber drivers need to be considered employees with the right to employment.

Among the main points of contention made by the responders are:
  • The responses say that Uber has considerable influence over the job that the drivers do, including determining prices, fining drivers who turn down rides, and giving comprehensive directions on how to execute trips. They argue that rather than being suggestive of an independent contractor relationship, this amount of authority is characteristic of an employment relationship.
  • According to the respondents, Uber drivers rely on the company for their financial well-being. They contend that drivers' ability to make a livelihood depends on their continuing use of Uber's platform, which serves as their main source of revenue. This financial reliance runs counter to the independence that independent contractors are supposed to possess.
  • They contend that drivers play a vital role in Uber's service delivery and are personally involved in executing the company's main offerings. The designation of drivers as workers rather than independent contractors is supported by this degree of integration into Uber's business processes.
  • The replies stress that the rights they are claiming�like the right to paid yearly leave and the national minimum wage�are granted to "workers" by law, not to independent contractors. They contend that the contractual connection between Uber drivers and the corporation is correctly reflected in the statutory definition of a worker, which includes those who work under contracts where they commit to provide services personally.
Judgement by the Court:
The UK Supreme Court issued a historic decision in February 2021 in the Uber BV v. Aslam & Ors. case, finding unanimously in favor of the respondents, Mr. Yaseen Aslam and Mr. James Farrar. The court upheld decisions made by subordinate courts, concluding that, contrary to Uber's claim that its drivers are independent contractors, they should be considered "workers" with access to worker rights and protections.

A number of important considerations went into the Supreme Court's ruling. First of all, the court noted Uber's considerable degree of influence over drivers' jobs. This includes determining the cost of transportation, enforcing refusal policies, and offering thorough guidelines on how to organize excursions. It was discovered that this kind of control was more suggestive of an employment connection than independent contractor work.

Second, the court emphasized how Uber drivers' livelihoods are financially dependent on the firm. The Uber platform is the main source of revenue for many drivers, and their ability to make a livelihood depends on how often they use the network. The categorization of drivers as workers entitled to employment rights was further bolstered by their economic dependency.

The court also took into account how crucial drivers are to Uber's business plan. Uber relies heavily on its drivers to provide its fundamental services, as they are actively involved in doing so. The drivers' designation as workers was further supported by this degree of integration into Uber's business processes.

All things considered, the ruling in Uber BV v. Aslam & Ors. affirms gig economy workers' claim to employment rights and protections, which is a huge achievement. It emphasizes the significance of guaranteeing equitable treatment and sufficient protections for workers in non-traditional employment arrangements and establishes a precedent for cases of a similar nature involving gig economy workers.

Analysis and Conclusion:
An important turning point in the ongoing discussion about the employment status of gig economy workers is the case of Uber BV v. Aslam & Ors. The majority ruling by the UK

Supreme Court designating Uber drivers as "workers" with rights to employment and protections has significant ramifications for the gig economy and UK labour laws.

This ruling emphasizes how crucial it is to give workers in non-traditional employment agreements fair treatment and sufficient rights. The court has acknowledged the changing nature of working relationships in the contemporary economy by reaffirming that Uber drivers are employees with the entitlement to employment rights rather than independent contractors.

The extent of Uber's influence over drivers' jobs was one of the major considerations in the court's ruling. Drivers' economic reliance on the corporation for their lives and this control made it possible to classify them as employees with the entitlement to employment rights. The court also emphasized the crucial role that drivers play in Uber's model of operation and how important they are to the company's ability to provide services.

The legal agreements between Uber and its drivers were also examined in detail by the court, which concluded that the practical aspects of the working relationship took precedence over the formal provisions of the agreements. This emphasizes how crucial it is to take work relationships' substance into account rather than depending just on contract text.

All things considered, the ruling in Uber BV v. Aslam & Ors. is a major win for gig economy workers and establishes a standard for disputes involving gig economy workers in the future. In order to meet the problems presented by the gig economy and guarantee that workers are granted sufficient rights and safeguards in line with the changing nature of employment relationships, it emphasizes the necessity of legislative and regulatory reforms.

The ruling in Uber BV v. Aslam may lead to a review of the laws regulating India's gig economy. Similar cases contesting the categorization of gig economy workers may make their way to Indian courts, maybe resulting in a reclassification and the awarding of job rights. The Indian government and regulatory bodies may review labor laws and maybe alter or add new legislation to make sure the rights of gig economy workers are sufficiently protected. This can mean creating more precise rules for worker categorization, guaranteeing equitable pay, offering social security benefits, and offering protection from wrongful termination.

The UK Supreme Court's ruling may establish a legal precedent that Indian courts and tribunals would follow when resolving comparable cases, leading to more uniformity and legal clarity in how gig economy workers are treated under Indian law.

  • Uber BV & Ors. V. Aslam & Ors. [2021] UKSC 5.
  • Uber BV & Ors. V. Aslam & Ors. [2021] UKSC 5. Accessible at <> (accessed on 4th March, 2024)
  • Employment's Rights Act, 1996 (UK).
  • Employment's Rights Act, 1996 (UK), s 230(3).
  • Employment's Rights Act, 1996 (UK), s 230(2).
  • National Minimum Wage Act, 1998 (UK).
  • Working Time regulations, 1998 (UK).
  • Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act, 1998 (UK)
  • Employment's Rights Act, 1996 (UK), s 230(3).
  • Uber BV & Ors. V. Aslam & Ors. [2021] UKSC 5.
  • Id.
  • Henry Ishitani, Recent case: Uber BV V. Aslam, Harvard Law Review (March 8, 2021) <> (5th March, 2024).

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