App-based taxi firm Uber is facing legal action from the National Union of General and Municipal Workers (GMB) over claims that it has breached its legal duty to provide staff with basic rights around pay, holiday, health and safety, and discipline and grievances.
GMB has appointed law firm Leigh Day to take legal action on behalf of union members after Uber stated that its drivers are ‘partners’ rather than employees, and are therefore not entitled to standard workers’ rights.
GMB has called on Uber to ensure that all of its drivers are paid the national minimum wage, given the statutory entitlement to paid holiday, and adhere to legal standards on discipline and grievances.
According to GMB, drivers have been suspended or deactivated by Uber after making complaints about unlawful treatment, without being given any opportunity to challenge this.
The union also wants Uber to address health and safety issues, such as ensuring drivers take rest breaks and work a maximum number of hours per week.
Successful legal action against Uber could see substantial pay outs for staff, including compensation for past failures by the organisation to make appropriate payments to 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.”
An Uber spokesperson added: “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 partners use Uber on their own terms; they control their use of the app.”