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New Uber Drivers Contract

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New Uber Contract For Drivers Does Not Affect Right Of Drivers To Join Or Continue Leigh Day Group Action For GMB Against Uber Terms

Uber requiring drivers to agree to new terms in order to be allowed to work means drivers have had little choice but to agree where they wish to continue driving says GMB.

GMB, the union for professional drivers, commented on the new Uber “Partner-Driver Agreement” which has been sent to drivers who work for Uber in the last week. This coincides with Uber seeking to operate in Glasgow and Brighton.

GMB has instructed Leigh Day to bring claims against Uber on behalf of individual drivers. The basis of these claims is that drivers are “workers” in law and that they should therefore have workers’ rights such as paid holiday and the right not to suffer unlawful deduction from their wages. See notes to editors for press release dated 27th July 2015.

GMB is contesting the Uber assertion that drivers are “partners” so are not entitled to rights normally afforded to workers. 

Uber operates a car hire platform that connects passengers to thousands of drivers through an app on the passenger’s smartphone.

Using the app, passengers can request they are picked up from any location within London (or 300 other cities worldwide). Passengers pay Uber for the journey, which then passes on a percentage of that payment to the driver.

GMB claim that Uber should conform to employment law as follows:

·    Uber should ensure that its drivers are paid the national minimum wage and that they receive their statutory entitlement to paid holiday. Currently Uber does not ensure these rights for its drivers

·    Uber should address serious health and safety issues. Currently Uber does not ensure its drivers take rest breaks or work a maximum number of hours per week. GMB content that this provides a substantial risk to all road users given that, according to Uber’s CEO, there will be 42,000 Uber drivers in London in 2016.

·    Uber should adhere to legal standards on discipline and grievances. Currently drivers have being suspended or deactivated by Uber after having made complaints about unlawful treatment, without being given any opportunity to challenge this.  

Steve Garelick, Branch Secretary of GMB Professional Drivers Branch, said “Uber did not consult with drivers relating to this new contract. GMB believes that Uber should consult with drivers before it makes changes to the drivers' contracts.

Uber making it a condition for drivers to agree to new terms in order to be allowed to work means drivers have had little choice but to agree where they wish to continue driving.

It is important to note the Leigh Day litigation is based on a statutory claim, not based on the terms of the contract. This new contract does not affect the right of drivers to join or continue this group action against Uber.

So far as the new contract is concerned, there are a number of changes, although many of these are cosmetic. Some of the material changes to note are as follows:

· The contract now acknowledges that drivers must have a minimum rating (although this is simply confirming something already done in practice);

· The contract states that drivers should not repeatedly fail to acknowledge user requests and should log off instead if they do not want to pick up users;

· The contract states that drivers agree that Uber may release the contact and/or insurance information of a driver to a user upon such user’s reasonable request. It may be that this has been included to cover situations where there had been an accident and a user wants to claim on the drivers’ insurance. However, this is a wide power and GMB will be carefully monitoring how Uber uses this power.”

Contact: Simon Rush on 07863 256411 or Steve Garelick or  07565 456 776, Elly Baker 07918 768773 or Michelle Bacon 07961 709680 or GMB press office 07921 289 880 or 07974 251 823 Or Steve.garelick@gmbdrivers.org

For Leigh Day David Standard 07540 332717 or Nigel Mackay on 020 7650 1155

Notes to editors

1 Copy of GMB release dated 27th July 2015

LEIGH DAY LEGAL ACTION FOR GMB UBER DRIVERS TO SECURE RIGHTS ON PAY, HOLIDAYS, HEALTH AND SAFETY, DISCIPLINE AND GRIEVANCES

The Uber assertion that drivers are “partners” who are not entitled to rights at work normally afforded to workers will be legally contested in court says GMB

GMB, the union for professional drivers, has instructed Leigh Day to take legal action in the UK on behalf of members driving for Uber on the grounds that Uber is in breach of a legal duty to provide them with basic rights on pay, holidays, health and safety and on discipline and grievances.

GMB is contesting the Uber assertion that drivers are “partners” so are not entitled to rights normally afforded to workers. 

Uber operates a car hire platform that connects passengers to thousands of drivers through an app on the passenger’s smartphone.

Using the app, passengers can request they are picked up from any location within London (or 300 other cities worldwide). Passengers pay Uber for the journey, which then passes on a percentage of that payment to the driver.

GMB claim that Uber should conform to employment law as follows:

·    Uber should ensure that its drivers are paid the national minimum wage and that they receive their statutory entitlement to paid holiday. Currently Uber does not ensure these rights for its drivers

·    Uber should address serious health and safety issues. Currently Uber does not ensure its drivers take rest breaks or work a maximum number of hours per week. GMB content that this provides a substantial risk to all road users given that, according to Uber’s CEO, there will be 42,000 Uber drivers in London in 2016.

·    Uber should adhere to legal standards on discipline and grievances. Currently drivers have being suspended or deactivated by Uber after having made complaints about unlawful treatment, without being given any opportunity to challenge this.

Nigel Mackay, a lawyer in the employment team at Leigh Day, said “The Uber assertion that drivers are “partners” who are not entitled to rights at work normally afforded to workers is being contested.

Uber not only pays the drivers but it also effectively controls how much passengers are charged and requires drivers to follow particular routes. As well as this, it uses a ratings system to assess drivers’ performance.

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. In particular, its drivers should not be denied the right to minimum wage and paid leave.

Uber should also take responsibility for its drivers, making sure they take regular rest breaks.

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.”

Steve Garelick, Branch Secretary of GMB Professional Drivers Branch, said “The need for a union to defend working drivers’ rights has become an imperative.

Operators like Uber must understand that they have an ethical and social policy that matches societies’ expectations of fair and honest treatment.

For far too long the public have considered drivers as almost ‘ghosts”. They are not seen as educated or with the same needs, aspirations and desires as the rest of the public.”

End

2 1 If any Uber would like to register an interest in the claim against Uber – details above - and in joining GMB in challenging the way Uber treats its drivers, please either contact GMB or submit an enquiry to GMB’s lawyers, Leigh Day at: https://www.leighday.co.uk/Asserting-your-rights/Employment-law/Employment-expertise-by-sector/Employment-and-discrimination-advice-for-drivers

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