No, you’ve got to check the details

The extent to which drivers are satisfied in the here and now is irrelevant to whether they are employees or self-employed in the eyes of the law, and the rights to which that entitles them. In a scathing ruling last year, an employment tribunal ruled that Uber drivers are, in fact, employees, because Uber exerts a degree of control over them – including dictating the price they can charge consumers – that should not exist between a company and its self-employed contractors.

Uber is appealing but, if it loses, it will probably have to change its contracts to reflect that drivers are employees.

They’re not. There are three classes in UK law, self-employed, workers and employees. The ruling was that Uber drivers are workers.

24 comments on “No, you’ve got to check the details

  1. Call me naive, but I would have thought that distinction was a little bit important.

    Important enough that the Guardian should know. So I guess we are back with the basic question – why are journalists such ignorant c**ts?

    There is nothing worse than being patronised by one’s patent intellectual inferiors. And who isn’t superior to these idiots?

  2. SMFS: “Important enough that the Guardian should know. So I guess we are back with the basic question – why are journalists such ignorant c**ts?”

    They aren’t. These ones know exactly what they are doing.

    Hint: It isn’t journalism…

  3. “I don’t think it makes sense to pay more for a cab driver who has spent hours swotting up on “the knowledge” in a world where a satnav can plan a route more effectively using real-time traffic data.”

    Is that really what you’re buying when you select a pricier black cab over Uber? I don’t think so (John Warbouys aside)…

  4. @Rob: never understood the TfL ‘thinking’ there..

    “Right, we’ve got crappy sound equipment to convey important safety information in a noisy, constantly moving environment”

    “So, get the guy with the strong Nigerian acccent & English as a third language to do it?”

    “Sure, why not?”

  5. because Uber exerts a degree of control over them – including dictating the price they can charge consumers

    Is that it? So, next time the contract is up for renewal Uber gives its freelance drivers a little control in the app to multiply/divide the current rate per mile. Problem solved.

  6. “So, next time the contract is up for renewal Uber gives its freelance drivers a little control in the app to multiply/divide the current rate per mile. Problem solved.”

    Yes, you’d have thought that it would make more sense for Uber to tie in what the freelancers paid in fees to how much they charged in relation to a set Uber standard tariff. So if Freelancer A runs at Uber’s set tariff he pays X, but if Freelancer B runs at 1.5 times Uber’s tariff he pays 1.5X in fees. Thus giving a massive incentive to mirror Uber’s set tariff, but no legal requirement to do so. And also to make all the Freelancers tariffs available to the customer to view in advance, so they can make a decision as to who to use.

  7. Yes, in theory Uber ought to give drivers some leeway in setting their fares. Fixed rates per mile & per minute mean there’ll be a slight shortage of drivers in some areas, and a surplus in others.

    But in practice the average driver can’t know what to charge, because they don’t have Uber’s “God-mode” overview of supply & demand. It’s a lot of extra complexity for very little benefit.

  8. “It’s a lot of extra complexity for very little benefit.”

    Its a lot of benefit if it doesn’t give the State (and vested interests) a stick to beat them with.

  9. Some speculate that Uber is effectively subsidising its customers’ rides to drive all other cab operators out of the market. According to this logic, the fares will eventually go up. If that’s the bet investors are making, it seems risky to me: there’s only so much consumers will be willing to pay, and it doesn’t seem inconceivable that a rival platform could enter the market.

    Achingly close to some actual economic insight there.

  10. “why are journalists such ignorant c**ts?”

    Most journalists are not employed to inform the public. They are employed to create stories that sell the newspaper or to push a political agenda. Most modern “journalism” is clickbait or propaganda, and the Guardian excels at both. Of course, it’s also the house journal of the chattering classes so it naturally attracts ignorant trustafarian posers who want to be in the media because they think they are far too grand to dirty their hands with an ordinary job.

  11. I’d have more time for the cab drivers if they actually followed their obligations of the regulations that give them their racket. Like not refusing to take people places out of their way, picking up disabled people etc. They happily ignore their obligations with no recompense then wonder why people don’t give a fuck when they cry about a company that will actually do that stuff.

  12. Matthew L,
    Quite: the barriers to entry are surprisingly low. In the UK there’s not much competent competition yet (no apps as good as Uber); but in the U.S., Lyft has a good slice of the market; and Google-owned Waze is under-cutting Uber with lift-shares in the Bay Area. It’s only a matter of time before they expand here.

  13. “why are journalists such ignorant c**nts?”

    Because most of them will only have studied journalism. Yet this seems to make people think they are trusted sources on just about any subject imaginable.

  14. Re: control of pricing. Surely Uber is acting as agent, offering the passenger to the driver at a given price. The driver can accept or reject at that price.

    If a theatrical agent offers someone a role at a given rate, the actor can’t just say, thanks for the heads-up, I’ll negotiate directly, thanks.

    Is there any difference?

  15. So being a worker or employee is partially based on what rights they have but those rights are determined if they are a worker or employee.

    That’s straightforward and not circular at all.

    God bless the government.

  16. “Because most of them will only have studied journalism”

    And, of course, vocational training is a full and complete substitute for an education.

  17. So the Grauniad writer wants there to be competition with Uber, while simultaneously wanting to load on more regulation, thereby making it harder to enter the market. Fucking brilliant.

  18. Rob,

    “Can we have English language test for TFL’s station announcers on the Underground?”

    And they can’t blame the public address system, it really is about diction.

    The first time I did the round the Island Race I thought that the starter/announcer was just an upper class toff.

    After a while I realised that with 100’s of boats milling around the start line vying for position and trying to avoid each other every 10 mins or so, and the boats that have started beating up the Solent trying to avoid a crash*, all start instructions and safety announcements need to be in the simplest and clearest English as its over a VHF radio that the skipper is only half, at best, listening to. The announcers’ diction is so good there is no chance of him being misunderstood even, with a crappy hand held radio.

    That’s what TFL need.

    *Next time you see a yacht have a look at the yellow horseshoe buoy on the back. In my first race that was taken off by another boats’ pointy bit. That really is a near miss and its happening all the time.

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