Is it all Uber for tech giant?

29 November, 2017
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

Uber’s toils show the importance of correctly categorising your staff and good data protection management.

Worker Status

The success of Uber’s business model is the immediacy with which customers can be picked up by a driver.

To do this, at present, Uber’s drivers log into the company’s app and wait for jobs to become available.

In short, to function as it does Uber requires a certain number of drivers to be available in each territory at all times to satisfy demand – herein lies the problem for Uber.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal recently upheld the Employment Tribunal’s decision that any Uber driver who was available/waiting and willing to accept a job, within their operating territory, was on the clock and working for Uber as a ‘worker’.

This means that Uber drivers are entitled to National Minimum Wage for the hours that they work, along with other worker rights.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Uber has chosen to apply directly to the Supreme Court (rather than to the Court of Appeal) to appeal the decision.

This is a big moment for not only Uber but the rest of the gig-economy.

If the Supreme Court were to uphold the decisions of the EAT and the Employment Tribunal the impact could be devastating for companies with similar business models to Uber.

Uber argues that in response to such a decision it would have to have drivers on scheduled shifts rather than simply allowing drivers to work when they wish to.

The impact of such an approach would be interesting.

To stay ahead of the competition Uber needs to have drivers readily available, meaning it may need to recruit additional drivers.

However, if costs are an issue, Uber may need to offset the increase in drivers by reducing the hours drivers can work; additionally, the loss of flexibility may turn some drivers away.  

Data Protection

If worker status issues weren’t enough, Uber has also found itself in the news due to a data protection breach.

In a classic example of how not to deal with a data protection breach, it has been reported that hackers compromised the personal data of more than 57 million of Uber’s users and drivers worldwide.

Uber is said to have discovered the hack back in December 2016 but rather than reporting it to the authorities it paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the data.

In a word of warning, the ICO’s statement regarding Uber’s data protection breach stated: “Deliberately concealing breaches from regulators and citizens could attract higher fines for companies.”

With the GDPR coming into force on 25 May 2018 click here for access to the Cripps Pemberton Greenish’s GDPR Hub and here for more information on data protection in a post-Brexit world.

If you require any employment law advice, please feel free to contact Chris Hovenden on 01732 224 166 or chris.hovenden@crippspg.co.uk