The Court of Appeal in London has refused an appeal by the Uber company against the decision that their drivers are "workers" within the meaning of the Working Time and Minimum Wage Regulations, and the Employment Protection Act 1996.

By a majority the court affirmed the employment tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal rulings, on preliminary issues in claims by Uber drivers for holiday pay and underpayment of wages, that the drivers were workers, employed by Uber London Ltd and not self-employed as maintained by Uber.

Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton and Lord Justice Bean agreed with the tribunals that the drivers' written contractual terms did not reflect the practical reality of the relationships and could therefore be disregarded in accordance with the principle established in an earlier Supreme Court decision, Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher [2011] UKSC 41. They approved the reasoning of the employment tribunal, which relied on a number of features of Uber’s working arrangements as being inconsistent with the driver having a direct contractual relationship with the passenger.

Lord Justice Underhill, dissenting, would have held that there was no inconsistency between the written terms and the working arrangements, which were not essentially different from those commonly applying where taxi and minicab owner-drivers were booked through an intermediary. He would also have held that drivers should only be treated as working from the moment that they accepted a particular trip, rather than whenever they had the app switched on as the majority held.

Uber has been given permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court. 

Click here to access the judgment.