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A roadblock to the gig economy? UK Supreme Court classifies Uber drivers as “workers”



In a landmark ruling, the UK Supreme Court has unanimously held that private hire vehicles drivers who provide their services through the Uber app were “workers” for the purposes of UK employment legislation: Uber BV and others (Appellants) v Aslam and others (Respondents) [2021] UKSC 5.  Earl Deng and Allison Wong discuss the decision and its implications for the gig economy in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is known for being an employer-friendly jurisdiction, so it may come as a surprise to many that as long as 14 years ago, the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal held in Poon Chau Nam v Yim Siu Cheung [2007] 1 HKLRD 951 that the status of an “employee” working under a contract of service under section 5(1) of the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance, Cap. 282 did not depend on the mere existence of a contract or necessitating dominant control over the worker in question, but must instead be ascertained as a matter of overall impression and to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Since Poon, the rise of the gig economy through app or web portals has further muddied the waters with innovative business models and service agreements where the service provider no longer directly engages the worker to provide a service for its customers, but instead purports to act as a matching agent between a service providing worker and the ultimate paying customer and taking a portion of the fees.

The Arguments

In Uber, the appellants argued that pursuant to its service agreements which both the driver and the customer accepted and separately entered into, Uber’s role was simply as a booking agent for independent contractors who provide transportation services (“Driver”) and that the contract for transportation services was between the Driver and the end user (“Rider”).

The Supreme Court unanimously rejected Uber’s arguments on two grounds.

On agency, the Supreme Court rejected that any agency relationship arose on the facts, whether on the wording of the service agreements or any evidence of overt acts by the principal (i.e. Driver) to confer the necessary authority to Uber to act on its behalf.

On contract, the Supreme Court upheld its previous decision in Autoclenz v Belcher [2011] UKSC 41; [2011] ICR 1157 and clarified the theoretical justification for it.  Like PoonAutoclenz held that whether a contract gives rise to a relationship of employment is not to be determined by the ordinary principles of contract, but to adopt a test that “focuses on the reality of the situation where written documentation may not reflect the reality of the relationship”.  However, instead of focusing on the exceptional nature of employment contracts, the Supreme Court held that the rights asserted by workers under employment legislation are not contractual rights but rights under legislation, and therefore the Court is to determine whether for the purpose of that specific legislation, the claimant was an employee.

The Court went on to hold that the purpose of the employment legislation in the UK is to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation by providing minimum standards and conditions of work and therefore it would be inconsistent against this legislative background to use the contract as a starting point to determine whether an individual falls within the definition of a worker.

On the facts, the Court emphasised certain aspects of the relationship between Uber and the Drivers which tend to show that there was a relationship of employment, including:

(i) the fixed nature of Drivers’ remuneration with no bargaining power on the part of Drivers;

(ii) the fact that Uber dictated the terms of services;

(iii) Uber’s control over Drivers on their performance via inter alia cancellation penalties and performance metrics;

(iv) restrictions on Drivers from establishing any relationship with Riders.

Significance to Hong Kong

At first blush, this decision together with the CFA’s judgment in Poon suggest that the gig, literally, is up.

However, and like all “overall impression” cases, Uber BV case was confined to its facts and the evidence before the Court.  Uber BV’s position remains that the case is confined to a group of drivers in 2016 under those terms of service agreement.

In Australia, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission held in Amita Gupta v Portier Pacific & Uber Australia Pty Ltd [2020] FWCFB 1698 that workers delivering through the Uber Eats platform were not employees due to:

(i) lack of control over working hours;

(ii) no exclusivity to platform;

(iii) no requirement to wear a uniform, bear logos, or represent herself as a representative of Uber.

Deputy President Colman also noted that the factual matrix did not require the Court to consider whether there was an employment relationship as Uber was simply a commercial intermediary between restaurants, customers and deliverers. That judgment is now on appeal.

Also of note is the decision of the Supreme Court not to express any concluded view on arguments put forward by Uber that they were simply a payment agent (but which failed to establish on the facts and evidence), providing some support to Deputy President Colman’s views.

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Gig Economy and Sharing Economy Market: Opportunities, Demand and Forecasts, 2021 to 2030 – KSU




Gig Economy and Sharing Economy market study conducts comparative analysis of historical data and present trends, while considering the impact of Covid-19 pandemic to predict industry valuation by 2027.


The global Gig Economy and Sharing Economy market was valued at $XX million in 2020, and MAResearch analysts predict the global market size will reach $XX million by the end of 2030, growing at a CAGR of XX% between 2021 and 2030.

Since the COVID-19 virus outbreak in December 2019, the disease has spread to all countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances. The global impacts of COVID-19 are already starting to be felt, and will significantly affect this industry in 2020 and 2021.

This report analyses the impact of COVID-19 on this industry. COVID-19 can affect the global market in 3 ways: by directly affecting production and demand, by creating supply chain and market disruption, and by its financial impact on enterprises and financial markets.

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This report provides detailed historical analysis of global market for Gig Economy and Sharing Economy from 2015-2020, and provides extensive market forecasts from 2021-2030 by region/country and subsectors. It covers the sales volume, price, revenue, gross margin, historical growth and future perspectives in the Gig Economy and Sharing Economy market.

Leading players of Gig Economy and Sharing Economy including:
BHU Technology
Didi Global
Favor Delivery
Twago Enterprise

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Market split by Type, can be divided into:
Shared Transportation
Shared Space/Room
Sharing Financial
Shared Health Care
Shared Knowledge Education

Market split by Application, can be divided into:
Mobile Users
Desktop Users

Market split by Sales Channel, can be divided into:
Direct Channel
Distribution Channel

Market segment by Region/Country including:
North America (United States, Canada and Mexico)
Europe (Germany, UK, France, Italy, Russia and Spain etc.)
Asia-Pacific (China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and Southeast Asia etc.)
South America (Brazil, Argentina and Colombia etc.)
Middle East & Africa (South Africa, UAE and Saudi Arabia etc.)

If you have any special requirements, please let us know and we can provide you the customized report as you want.

Report Customization available as per requirements Request Customization@

Major Point of TOC:

Chapter One: Gig Economy and Sharing Economy Market Overview

Chapter Two: Gig Economy and Sharing Economy Market Segment Analysis by Player

Chapter Three: Gig Economy and Sharing Economy Market Segment Analysis by Type

Chapter Four: Gig Economy and Sharing Economy Market Segment Analysis by Application

Purchase @

Chapter Five: Gig Economy and Sharing Economy Market Segment Analysis by Sales Channel

Chapter Six: Gig Economy and Sharing Economy Market Segment Analysis by Region

Chapter Seven: Profile of Leading Gig Economy and Sharing Economy Players

Chapter Eight: Upstream and Downstream Analysis of Gig Economy and Sharing Economy

Chapter Nine: Development Trend of Gig Economy and Sharing Economy (2021-2030)

Chapter Ten: Appendix

To Check Discount of Gig Economy and Sharing Economy Market @

About us.
The Market Insights is a sister company to SI Market research and The Market Insights is into reselling. The Market Insights is a company that is creating cutting edge, futuristic and informative reports in many different areas. Some of the most common areas where we generate reports are industry reports, country reports, company reports and everything in between. At The Market Insights, we give our clients the best reports that can be made in the market. Our reports are not only about market statistics, but they also contain a lot of information about new and niche company profiles. The companies that feature in our reports are pre-eminent. The database of the reports on market research is constantly updated by us. This database contains a broad variety of reports from the cardinal industries. Our clients have direct access online to our databases. This is done to ensure that the client is always provided with what they need. Based on these needs, we at The Market Insights also include insights from experts about the global industries, market trends as well as the products in the market. These resources that we prepare are also available on our database for our esteemed clients to use. It is our duty at The Market Insights to ensure that our clients find success in their endeavors and we do everything that we can to help make that possible.

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Backing Workers In Our Gig Economy Every Step Of Way




VIC Premier

In a national first, the Andrews Labor Government is taking action to protect the rights of gig workers to make sure these Victorians are getting the fair deal they deserve.

Minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas today released the Labor Government’s response to the Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce, including $5 million in funding support delivered as part of the Victorian Budget 2021/22.

Funding will help work begin immediately on implementing the Labor Government’s response to the twenty recommendations of the Inquiry’s report – including setting principles-based standards to provide fairer conditions for on-demand workers and ensure platforms operate transparently.

That includes early work on options for government support to give platform workers and businesses alike easy access to clear advice around work status, rights and entitlements, while also helping to resolve disputes.

Fair conduct and accountability standards will be developed together with industry and unions to establish shared principles on work status, fair conditions and pay, worker representation and safety.

All too often, gig economy workers have found themselves in a situation that looks and feels like an employment relationship. However, existing mechanisms to determine one’s work status – such as courts and tribunals – are often slow, costly and inaccessible.

In a sign that change is on the horizon, we’re seeing some progress. Menulog recently announced it will trial an employment model, offering its delivery workers a full suite of employment entitlements.

The Inquiry, and many people who participated in its consultation, called for change to be led at a national level through reforms to national work laws. The Victorian Government fully supports this recommendation.

The Inquiry was commissioned by the Labor Government in 2018 following widespread concerns from workers and the union movement over the wages and conditions offered to gig workers, chaired by former Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.

The Inquiry found that many workers have an uncertain work status, impacting their superannuation and rights to accident compensation. It also found that advice about work status is often limited and fragmented.

The Government supports, in full or in principle, twenty recommendations made by the Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce. More information is available at

As stated by Minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas

“Every person deserves to feel safe and secure at work, especially gig workers who so many of us relied on throughout the pandemic.”

“With a leadership vacuum in Canberra, Victoria will lead the way with more focused support for the on-demand workers and businesses who need it.”

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.

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Spain – Gig economy riders must become staff within 90 days under new rule (Reuters)




12 May 2021

Food delivery companies based in Spain have three months to employ their couriers as staff under new rules approved on Tuesday by the government, one of the first laws in Europe regarding gig-economy workers’ rights, reports Reuters. The decree aims to clarify the legal situation of thousands of riders after Spain’s Supreme Court ruled last year that companies must hire them as employees. “The regulation approved today places us at the forefront of a technological change that cannot leave labour rights behind,” Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz said. A debate on how to regulate workers’ rights in the gig economy is unfolding globally. The European Commission has opened a public consultation period on potential EU-wide rules. The new Spanish rules came into force immediately, with companies being given 90 days to comply. According to the labour ministry’s calculations, nearly 17,000 riders without a contract have already been identified. In March, Spain’s government passed a landmark law classifying food delivery riders as employees

A spokesperson for Uber said, “This regulation will directly hurt thousands of couriers who use food delivery apps for much-needed flexible earnings opportunities and made it clear they do not want to be classified as employees.”

“The decree approved today by the cabinet is a hard blow for the future of the digital economy in Spain”, according to Adigital, a business industry association that represent gig economy companies including Spanish start-up Glovo and Deliveroo.

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