Bike couriers, pizza deliverers, car valeters, taxi drivers and plumbers - what have these jobs got in common? As those keeping up with their employment case law will know, they have all been involved in legal cases where their "self employed" working arrangements have been unravelled and have been held to be "workers" and hence entitled to an element of protection under employment law.
However, following it's legal case, Uber wrote to its 50,000 drivers explaining that the ruling did not mean that all drivers were entitled to workers rights. This is because the way the legal system works in the UK is that in order to establish an entitlement it is up to each individual worker (or group of workers) to obtain their own legal ruling.
Some would argue that this system needs to change since it should not be up to workers to be forced to bring their own legal claims. Instead there should be a better way to help ensure that labour standards are preserved across the board, preserving the effectiveness of the law. Is it time for an Independent Labour Inspectorate? In his review of modern working practices Matthew Taylor has proposed that in "worker status" cases there should be a presumption of worker status and hence entitlement to the rights that come with it, unless the engaging organisation can show otherwise.
If my time as an employment lawyer has taught me one thing it is that there is great deal of confusion out there as to the three "legal" boxes into which those working can be put - employees, workers, and self employed. Clarity on who properly fits into which box would a great start!
In a hearing by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee as part of the Taylor Review of modern working practices, Hermes has said it would leave enforcement of employment law up to workers if it were to lose a cast at tribunal.