Self-employed or worker? Gig economy rulings take opposing positions

uber and deliveroo

In the space of just a week, two very different judgements have been made about the employment status of those working in the so-called ‘gig’ economy.

In the first, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) rejected Uber’s appeal against the finding that its drivers should be recognised as employees and therefore entitled to benefits such as holiday and sick pay. The EAT dismissed Uber’s claim that drivers were independent contractors, ruling that in reality they were subject to a number of controls. Uber is expected to appeal again.

Despite the apparent operational similarity between Uber drivers and Deliveroo bike couriers, the Central Arbitration Committee took the opposite view, ruling that riders were in fact self-employed. This judgement rested on a specific clause in the riders’ contract which gave them the right to substitution.

The Deliveroo ruling takes a different approach to other cases by focusing on contractual detail rather than what happens in practice. It remains to be seen which approach takes precedence in future. The government will publish a discussion paper on this issue as part of the response to Matthew Taylor’s review. In the meantime, confusion around employment status continues unabated.

Criminal Finances Act – an update

In September, we highlighted how diligent agencies need not fear the Criminal Finances Act 2017. However, agencies that do not scrutinise their suppliers and ensure compliance with regulations should be aware that it is the business that takes the financial hit for an individual’s tax evasion activities, not the individual themselves.

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