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  1. ITV Report

Uber facing legal action from drivers over pay and rights

Uber has exploded in popularity across London, but many drivers say they do not enjoy the basic rights of an employee. Photo: PA Wire

Uber drivers who are members of the GMB union are taking their company to court over claims it does not provide them with the basic rights normally afforded to employees.

The GMB said law firm Leigh Day would be challenging the company on the grounds that it is in breach of a legal duty to provide them with basic rights on pay, holidays, health and safety and on discipline and grievances.

Uber have rapidly expanded since arriving in the capital, and the company CEO has said they plan to have 42,000 drivers in London by 2016.

The drivers are classified as "partners" instead of employees by Uber, which GMB says enables them to not provide basic employee rights. They want the company to comply with the following employment law principles:

  • Minimum wage and holiday pay: GMB want Uber to ensure that all drivers are paid the minimum wage and hoilday pay.
  • Health and safety at work: GMB want the company to ensure drivers take rests and work a maximum number of hours per week.
  • Discipline and grievances: GMB want Uber to enable their drivers to challenge suspensions or deactivations - as they allege that many drivers are suspended after having made complaints about unlawful treatment - without being given any opportunity to challenge this.

If the challenge is successful, drivers could receive substantial payouts, according to Nigel Mackay at Leigh Day.

Uber not only pays the drivers but it also effectively controls how much passengers are charged and requires drivers to follow particular routes. We believe that it’s clear from the way Uber operates that it owes the same responsibilities towards its drivers as any other employer does to its workers.

If Uber wishes to operate in this way, and to reap the substantial benefits, then it must acknowledge its responsibilities towards its drivers and the public.

A successful legal action against Uber could see substantial pay outs for drivers, including compensation for past failures by the company to make appropriate payments to who we argue are their workers.

– Nigel Mackay, Leigh Day

An a statement to ITV News London, an Uber spokesman said:

One of the main reasons drivers use Uber is because they love being their own boss.

As employees, drivers would drive set shifts, earn a fixed hourly wage, and lose the ability to drive elsewhere as well as the personal flexibility they most value.

The reality is that drivers use Uber on their own terms: they control their use of the app.

– Uber spokesperson