In a recent judgment delivered on February 19, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (“UK”) in Uber BV and Others vs Aslam and Others, upheld the judgment passed by the Employment Tribunal and held that drivers engaged by Uber were “workers” within the definition and not independent, third party contractors. The aforesaid judgment has significant implications upon the precarious treatment of gig workers, which may also have a bearing on treatment of such workers in India.
The UK Supreme Court’s Treatment of Gig Workers
In Uber BV and Others vs Aslam and Others The Supreme Court of UK held Uber drivers to be “workers” basis inter alia the following predominant factors:
The remuneration paid to drivers for the work they do and the “service fee” is unilaterally fixed by Uber. Such control further extends to Uber’s right to decide in its sole discretion whether to make a full or partial refund of the fare to a passenger pursuant to a complaint about a driver or the service provided by him.
- Uber unilaterally dictates the contractual terms on which drivers are to perform their services. The drivers must mandatorily accept Uber’s standard form of written agreement and the terms on which passengers are transported.
- Though the drivers have the freedom to choose when and where (within the area covered by their licence) to work, Uber has the absolute discretion to accept or decline any request for a ride. Uber exercises control over the acceptance of the request by the driver in two ways, namely by controlling the information provided to the driver about the passenger and by monitoring the driver’s rate of acceptance (and cancellation) of trip requests.
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