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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 5:49 pm 
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Which of course in turn is why it's all potentially so messy, particularly when you consider the trade as a whole, and the thousands of different firms :-o

Maybe it would be good if the Employment Tribunal that deals with the Uber case, now the worker's status law has been sorted, could give guidance on what needs to be shown and by whom to make a successful claim.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:39 pm 
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Uber accused of trying to deter drivers from seeking compensation

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/ ... mpensation

Uber has been accused of trying to deter drivers from seeking compensation for missed holiday and minimum wage payments after a landmark court ruling.

The taxi-hailing app may have to pay out more than £100m to more than 10,000 drivers involved in cases linked to a the UK supreme court ruled on Friday that they must be classified as workers. Uber has previously argued that its 60,000 UK drivers are self-employed independent contractors with no right to holiday pay, a company pension or the national minimum wage.

The case began when two drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, took Uber to court on behalf of a group of about 23 others.

In a message to drivers after the ruling, Uber’s general manager for northern and eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said that as a result of the court’s decision “a small number of drivers from 2016 can be classified as workers, but this judgement does not apply to drivers who earn on the app today.”

He said Uber had made significant changes to its business in recent years, including giving drivers more control over their earnings and bringing in new protections including free insurance in case of sickness or injury.

One driver who received the message said: “After hearing about the court decision I was feeling slightly elated and thought at last things may change, but when I received the message from Uber it felt like a kick in the teeth saying it only applies to a few drivers.”

Lawyers acting for the claimants argue that Heywood’s statement was misleading.

Nigel Mackay, a partner at the law firm Leigh Day, which is acting for more than 2,200 drivers, said: “There is no way they can say ‘this doesn’t apply’ with confidence. To suggest that the changes they talk about have any impact on the supreme court findings, the effect of that is very misleading. Uber is trying to deter people from the claim with this message.”

The firm believes the drivers are due about £12,000 in compensation each, which would cost Uber more than £26m.

If Uber does not accept that the court’s ruling on Farrar and Aslam applies to all of its drivers, the linked cases will restart at the employment tribunal after being paused while the supreme court’s decision was awaited. Lawyers said hundreds more drivers had applied to join the claims since the ruling.

Mackay said the judgement was clear about specific factors which indicated Uber’s control of the drivers by, for example, setting the cost of a journey and handing out penalties related to users’ ratings. He said it was difficult to see that any of the changes to conditions Uber had talked had changed that level of control.

Andrew Nugent Smith, the managing director of the law firm Keller Lenkner, which is representing more than 8,000 drivers , was contacted by about 1,000 more over the weekend. It believes those already on its books could claim an average of £10,000 each in compensation, which would cost Uber about £80m.

“To suggest that there is no impact at all on the wider driver community, and current conditions and working practices, is misleading,” he said. While the supreme court decision“did relate to historic terms and practices, that Uber has since changed, we are confident that drivers must still be treated as workers”.

An Uber source refuted the claim that Heywood’s message had misled drivers or was intended to deter them from seeking compensation. The source said the company was consulting about changes it could make to its working practices. It is expected to announce a response to the consultation within weeks and wants the government to consider how to ensure there is a level playing field with a response to the ruling across the whole ride-hailing industry.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:44 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
Uber accused of trying to deter drivers from seeking compensation

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/ ... mpensation



Makes sense, spend thousands on lawyers for just a few drivers......perfect sense :roll:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 8:02 pm 
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Really interesting article from Wired, with one or two juicy bits.

The Supreme Court owned Uber. What comes next is much worse

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/uber-su ... e-lawsuits

Last Friday, the floodgates opened. Thousands of Uber drivers flocked to sue the ride-hailing company for back pay and benefits after the Supreme Court ruled that it must now classify drivers on its platform as workers. So far, the equivalent of over 20 per cent of the company’s 60,000 UK drivers have launched a claim against Uber, according to figures from lawyers organising group litigation action.

Andrew Nugent Smith, managing partner of law firm Keller Lenkner, says that drivers were approaching his team to launch claims “on an hourly basis" since the ruling on Friday. His firm, which is representing 9,000 claimants, has calculated that each driver could claim back between £10,000 and £12,000 each.

Leigh Day, the law firm that represented drivers during the long-running legal battle that ended up in the Supreme Court, is similarly optimistic. Nigel Mackay, an employment partner who is acting for 3,000 claimants, says that each worker could be entitled to up to £12,000, depending on how long they worked for Uber.

The cost to Uber could be huge. Uber declined to provide figures, but Deutsche Bank estimated that a worst-case scenario would require Uber to pay $2.5 billion in VAT back-taxes, in addition to future price hikes in the UK that could approach 30 per cent. And that’s without factoring in the cost of minimum wage and benefits for current drivers reclassified as workers. If that’s bad, Uber’s accounts paint an even gloomier picture. In its latest global filing the company admitted that it could never reach profitability and said that its losses had ballooned to $16.4bn by December 2019.

As Uber doesn’t break down its accounting for each country it remains unclear how big an impact the Supreme Court ruling will have on its business. However, its global figures show that in 2019, 23 per cent of Uber’s $65bn global gross bookings came from London, alongside four US cities (San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York).

In the company accounts, the UK’s Supreme Court judgment was listed under “risks”. If it were forced to reclassify drivers as employees, or quasi-workers, Uber said it would incur “significant additional expenses” and that it would require it to “fundamentally” change its business model”, a move that would have an “adverse effect” on its “financial condition”.

In practice, Uber’s entire model is based on recruiting a large supply of vehicles to meet surges in demand at no additional cost to its business. This would be upended if it paid all drivers minimum wage as soon as they logged on to the app. Uber’s algorithm would not just have to meet any surges in passenger demand, but also squeeze as many rides as possible out of every driver and cut their waiting time to make paying minimum wage worthwhile.

The knock-on effect could be higher prices for customers, or Uber taking a lower cut of the profits from each ride (on average, it takes a fee of 20 per cent). And because this decision only affects Uber and not its direct competitors, it could effectively be pricing itself out of the market – at least until similar legal claims are brought against other gig economy ride hailing firms.

Uber’s hopes of a win were already shattered by Thursday night, when the company received the judgment under embargo. And when the landmark judgment was handed down on Friday morning, Uber was prepared. On every driver’s screen, a message from the company popped up to tell them to ignore the news: as far as Uber was concerned, their rights hadn’t changed at all.

“Today we learned that our case was not successful and a small number of drivers from 2016 should have been classified as workers, but this judgment does not apply to drivers who earn on the app today,” read the note, signed by Uber general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe Jamie Heywood. “We want to do more to offer you the best of both worlds – preserving your independence, while delivering the protections and benefits you deserve.”

Uber’s efforts to downplay the significance of the Supreme Court decision has not gone unnoticed by the union behind the original challenge. “It’s hogwash,” says Steve ********, regional organiser at the GMB union. “If this was only about a few people why did Uber bother to fight a case over it? Surely it could have just settled with those few [drivers] and saved itself a bunch of money?” He says Uber tried to create a “hazy perception”, but that simply changing the terms on the app doesn’t exclude current drivers from being classified as workers. “If it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” says ********.

According to Mackay, Uber’s intention is to try and put people off making a claim. “It's difficult to see why else they're putting out that message, given that, in reality, they must know that nothing of significance has really changed since 2016,” he says. An Uber source strongly refuted claims that it misled drivers.

But the company’s messaging caused a lot of confusion from drivers seeking legal advice, says Nugent Smith. “We've had many, many drivers unclear as to the impact of the decision on them, especially in light of Uber's subsequent statements. We're having to explain to drivers that you don't automatically get compensation for this, so you do have to bring a claim in order to get the historic minimum wage and holiday pay that you're entitled to.”

Behind the scenes, Uber has pivoted from attack to damage control. Over the weekend, it sent a 27-question survey to all UK drivers on the platform, with the aim of presenting a plan of action backed up by the opinions of drivers in the coming weeks. Uber says such a plan will “shape the future of flexible work”. The courts may, once again, disagree. Heywood has met with several groups of drivers to find out what is on their list of priorities.

In screenshots seen by WIRED, drivers were asked to use a sliding scale from ‘very important’ to ‘not at all important’ to answer questions such as “How important is earning income on the app?” or “How important is having more flexible working hours and avoiding set shifts?”. Uber asked drivers to choose between “I would value being able to access new benefits and protections such as pension contributions, knowing that this could mean I lose control of when and where I drive”, or “I value the ability to work flexibly and determine when and where I drive”. It did not ask drivers whether they want Uber to recognise them as workers.

What happens next could provide the blueprint for how Uber responds to a far bigger battle: the survival of its business model in Europe.

On Wednesday, the European Commission published the first stage consultation on how to improve working conditions in the gig economy. The report said the gig economy gave work to 11 per cent of the EU’s workforce at least once – but that a surge of demand for gig work during the pandemic was putting “pressure on earnings and working conditions”. The report also claims that the algorithms used by gig economy companies “may be concealing the degree of the legal and economic dependency of the people working through platforms”.

Proposals could be made by the end of this year, and would provide the first set of rules for the EU as a whole. Until now, individual countries have had to rule on workers’ rights, creating a patchwork of legal regulations that classify some gig workers as employees while others are still contractors, despite working for the same company.

The Commission has now entered into a six-week consultation period with unions and gig economy companies. Neither Uber nor its competitors have a confirmed seat at the table, meaning that they won’t have a say in the framework that will govern their operations in Europe.

Uber tried to elbow its way into these negotiations earlier this month, when Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, presented a white paper called “A Better Deal” to EU policymakers and offered himself up for Zoom meetings to discuss the company’s point of view. In it, the ride-hailing giant lobbied to provide workers with flexible arrangements and additional benefits. Uber argued that the current legal ambiguity on the status of independent workers makes it difficult for the company to provide access to flexible work, benefits and social protections to independent workers.

But the drivers who won the original case argue that even when the law is clear, Uber tries to circumvent it. Last week’s Supreme Court victory was bittersweet because most of the original 25 claimants no longer work for Uber, and had expected that the judgment would result in more immediate, far-reaching changes. James Farrar, one of the co-claimants on the case, says Uber is “in denial” by not immediately recognising all drivers as workers. “Somebody should send in an army of grief counsellors and psychologists to them, because I think they just haven't accepted it. There's just nowhere to turn for them on this. The ruling couldn't be clearer.”

It’s wrong that the onus is on drivers to solve this situation, Farrar says, and that no authority has come forward to exact justice for the remainder of drivers, Farrar says. Outside of the Uber case, the government is committed to establishing a single enforcement body to provide a clearer route for workers to raise a complaint and get support. But that body does not yet exist. And in the meantime, Uber is reportedly lobbying to ensure that if it has to recognise drivers as workers, that every other ride-hailing company does too.“We have always been absolutely clear that employers must take their employment responsibilities seriously and cannot simply opt out of them,” a government spokesperson says.

At the time of the judgment, legal experts suggested that HMRC could wade in to determine what taxes Uber owes and whether it’s in breach of payment of minimum wage to its current drivers. So far, no action has been taken. An HMRC spokesperson refused to comment due to taxpayer confidentiality. “HMRC’s role is to collect the right amount of tax due under UK law and we carefully scrutinise businesses,” the spokesperson says. “We make sure large businesses, like all other taxpayers, pay all the taxes due under UK law.”

Transport for London (TfL), Uber’s old sparring partner, may also play a pivotal role. The Supreme Court judges were not convinced that Uber’s business model complies with the laws that govern private hire bookings in London. In the judgment, they argued that the only way that Uber could comply with the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 was to also provide the actual transportation and that providing it through a platform, as Uber does, would be illegal.

Technically, this puts TfL in a position to reconsider whether Uber – and any other ride-hailing operator – should continue operating in London at all. A TfL spokesperson says the organisation is “considering the Supreme Court’s judgment and any impacts on the provision of transport services in London”. On Wednesday, the lead claimants in the Supreme Court case urged London mayor Sadiq Khan to insist that Uber comply with the ruling as a condition of its London license, which is due to expire in March 2022. If he does, Uber’s fate will once again rest in the hands of the courts.

Uber's future is, for the first time, out of its hands. After 12 years of moving fast and breaking things, the slow progress of the courts and the looming spectre of regulation are finally catching up with it. If the Supreme Court ruling lays down a marker, then what comes next will define not just Uber's future, but the future of the entire gig economy. Faced with a deluge of lawsuits and legislators keen to get a grip on the gig economy, Uber must make a choice: fight in the courts or accept its fate.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 8:07 pm 
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Uber have received a huge fine (900,000) in an Italian court case and been told that their couriers are not self employed contractors but workers who have to be given employee rights.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 8:14 pm 
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heathcote wrote:
Uber have received a huge fine (900,000) in an Italian court case and been told that their couriers are not self employed contractors but workers who have to be given employee rights.

Another nail, and I hope in time the EU give drivers the same level of status as the Supreme Court has.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 3:26 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
heathcote wrote:
Uber have received a huge fine (900,000) in an Italian court case and been told that their couriers are not self employed contractors but workers who have to be given employee rights.

Another nail, and I hope in time the EU give drivers the same level of status as the Supreme Court has.



What before your hero BO Jo removes them ? as he will :badgrin:

By the way its "workers under the direction of the company"

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 5:37 pm 
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What nobody seems to able to clarify is whether/why Uber is different to any of the major private hire companies.

I can't see what makes Uber different from a PH company in any city that is taking up to 75% of its bookings via app.

Private Hire News thinks that it is because Uber receives all the fares in the first instance, but that is too simplistic for me. It would be perfectly easy to establish a 'client account'.

Has anyone got an answer to why this isn't devastating news to every PH Operator?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 5:58 pm 
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''What nobody seems to able to clarify is whether/why Uber is different to any of the major private hire companies''.

From what I have read of the judgement, It is because uber have all the contact details of ''riders'' as they are called. uber collect the money and uber decide the fares. Also, uber has a rating system whereby drivers falling below a certain level are warned to up their work or else be logged off the system. uber also ''interview'' drivers at the beginning. uber also take between 20-30% of all fares.
Most ph bases have a radio rental system where the driver gets charged a fixed amount each week. The driver can charge more or less than suggested by the base and keeps all the fares to himself. I know ph firms also do account work but with uber it was All ''account'' work. This has recently been slightly changed.
I am sure others will come up with additional info on this.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 7:34 pm 
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Has anyone got an answer to why this isn't devastating news to every PH Operator?

Well I think it could be, and maybe operators will need to review how many cars they have logged on at any particular time.

But I'm not one for getting too stressed over the difficulties that operators will come up against, I'm more interested in drivers at least earning the minimum wage and having sick pay should they need it.

Maybe operators could share parts of their companies with drivers so they are shareholders not workers.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 7:50 pm 
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cheshirebest wrote:
Most ph bases have a radio rental system where the driver gets charged a fixed amount each week. The driver can charge more or less than suggested by the base and keeps all the fares to himself.

This doesn't sound like any PH firm that I know and as far as I am aware PH drivers can't set prices.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 2:27 pm 
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Extract from Supreme Court ruling.
Amongst 5 reasons given why uber lost the case
113 is the paragraph number in ruling.
Anyone interested in reading the relevant parts please read pages 29 onwards.

113. It is not necessary for present purposes to express any view on whether the
Mingeley case was correctly decided. I do not accept, however, that the fact that the
claimant in that case was free to work as and when he chose was a sufficient reason
for holding that, at times when he was working, he was not employed under a
contract to do work for the firm. If that conclusion was justified on the facts of the
Mingeley case, it would have to be on the basis that the claimant was not to be
regarded as working for the minicab firm when transporting passengers in
circumstances where the firm did not receive any money in respect of any individual
trip undertaken by him. This arrangement was materially different from Uber’s
business model.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2021 1:36 am 
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cheshirebest wrote:
Extract from Supreme Court ruling.
Amongst 5 reasons given why uber lost the case
113 is the paragraph number in ruling.
Anyone interested in reading the relevant parts please read pages 29 onwards.

You think the Supreme Court was saying that if Uber charged a fixed fee rather than a %age then the thing would have been a whole lot different?

You may be right, but the five main factors outlined by the court in its ruling didn't even mention the method of fee payment.

And, for what it's worth, it doesn't make a blind bit of difference to my own opinion. I mean, if a mainstream PH firm decided to move from a flat fee to a %age to me it wouldn't change the relationship in any way. Ditto a PH firm doing *some* app bookings declaring that it would in future *only* do app bookings.

I suspect the flat fee arose in the first place because of how difficult it would have been in 1990 (say) to charge based on a %age, which would have been very labour intensive to work out. So maybe it's a legacy thing. By the same token, when Uber started with its app, it wanted to encourage what's now called the gig economy aspect, ie drivers using an unplated car logging on in their spare time, so a %age charge rather than a flat fee facilitated that. Of course, that never happened here (at least in terms of using unlicensed cars), but even though the gig economy aspect was hardly unknown in the UK prior to Uber, flat office fees certainly didn't encourage it (but for part-time/occassional driver types, the flat fee encouraged car sharing).

So to me apps and charging methods are irrelevant. And I don't get some of your earlier points such as Uber having the contact details of 'riders'. I mean, who retains the punters' details in a minicab office?

So I think a lot of the supposed difference are based on advances as regards technology and automation rather than what the Supreme Court case should be all about.

Likewise, people who don't know the trade thinks that terms like 'riders', the 'gig economy' and 'ride-hailing' somehow make it all very different, but to me they're just 'neologisms' rather than anything particularly new in the trade.

Anyway, in the grand scheme of things my opinion is neither here nor there, so no point me chuntering on any more.

But I think Tom Thumb earlier summarised things quite nicely:

Tom Thumb wrote:
What nobody seems to able to clarify is whether/why Uber is different to any of the major private hire companies.

I can't see what makes Uber different from a PH company in any city that is taking up to 75% of its bookings via app.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2021 1:48 am 
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By the way, when the court distinguished Mingeley on the basis of payment, I'm assuming that the words 'individual trip undertaken' is referring to the flat fee aspect rather than the fact that Uber is paid by the driver by retaining part of the fare received directly by them :?

Supreme Court wrote:
113. It is not necessary for present purposes to express any view on whether the
Mingeley case was correctly decided. I do not accept, however, that the fact that the
claimant in that case was free to work as and when he chose was a sufficient reason
for holding that, at times when he was working, he was not employed under a
contract to do work for the firm. If that conclusion was justified on the facts of the
Mingeley case, it would have to be on the basis that the claimant was not to be
regarded as working for the minicab firm when transporting passengers in
circumstances where the firm did not receive any money in respect of any individual
trip undertaken by him
. This arrangement was materially different from Uber’s
business model.

So in the Mingeley case I think the Supreme Court was making the point that the firm didn't receive payment for each *individual* trip, whereas Uber does.

But what difference that should make to the question of employment status, I haven't the foggiest, but it seems the Supreme Court thinks it does :-|


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2021 4:39 pm 
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You think the Supreme Court was saying that if Uber charged a fixed fee rather than a %age then the thing would have been a whole lot different?

It's what some of the local trade are saying down here, and they are 100% wrong.

The % has nothing to do with 'workers' status. In respect of pricing it's the fact that Uber fixed the prices not how much the driver actually gets.

But the Justices found against Uber on many other issues than pricing.

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