Taxi service Uber has been sued by two of its drivers who allege that they are workers and not self-employed.
The two claims are being used as test cases for a further 17 claims that the drivers are entitled to certain benefits of worker status, including the right to holiday pay and the minimum wage.
Uber maintains that its drivers are in control of their workload and as such are self-employed.
Justin Bowden, national secretary of the GMB union which is supporting the drivers’ claims, told the BBC: “The issue here is not about taking away the flexibility…. But the high degree of control that Uber exercises over their drivers.
“You either have employment law that people have to follow or you don’t.”
If the drivers are successful in their claims, this will likely lead the way for more claims from both Uber drivers and others in similar industries.
Annie Powell, employment lawyer at firm Leigh Day, representing the union, said “This claim is vital for the thousands of Uber drivers who work in England and Wales and has implications even wider than that.
“We are seeing a creeping erosion of employment rights as companies misclassify their workers as self-employed so as to avoid paying them holiday pay and the national minimum wage.”
Jo Bertram, regional general manager at Uber UK said “More than 30,000 people in London drive with our app and this case only involves a very small number.
“The main reason people choose to partner with Uber is so they can become their own boss, pick their own hours and work completely flexibly.
“Many partner-drivers have left other lines of work and chosen to partner with Uber for this very reason. In fact two thirds of new partner-drivers joining the Uber platform have been referred by another partner.”