La corte suprema inglese, 19.02.2021,  UKSC 5, Uber e altri c. Aslam e altri, dice che gli autisti UBER sono <workers>, confermando la decisione del Tribunale e rigettando la domanda di Uber, § 93.
Allo scopo ne evidenzia cinque aspetti fattuali:
- Primo e soprattutto, <<the remuneration paid to drivers for the work they do is fixed by Uber and the drivers have no say in it (other than by choosing when and how much to work). Unlike taxi fares, fares for private hire vehicles in London are not set by the regulator. However, for rides booked through the Uber app, it is Uber that sets the fares and drivers are not permitted to charge more than the fare calculated by the Uber app. The notional freedom to charge a passenger less than the fare set by Uber is of no possible benefit to drivers, as any discount offered would come entirely out of the driver’s pocket and the delivery of the service is organised so as to prevent a driver from establishing a relationship with a passenger that might generate future custom for the driver personally (see the fifth point, discussed below). Uber also fixes the amount of its own “service fee” which it deducts from the fares paid to drivers. Uber’s control over remuneration further extends to the right to decide in its sole discretion whether to make a full or partial refund of the fare to a passenger in response to a complaint by the passenger about the service provided by the driver (see para 20 above)>>, § 94
- Secondo, i termini contrattuali son dettati da Uber. <<Not only are drivers required to accept Uber’s standard form of written agreement but the terms on which they transport passengers are also imposed by Uber and drivers have no say in them>>, § 95.
Terzo, <<although drivers have the freedom to choose when and where (within the area covered by their PHV licence) to work, once a driver has logged onto the Uber app, a driver’s choice about whether to accept requests for rides is constrained by Uber. Unlike taxi drivers, PHV operators and drivers are not under any regulatory obligation to accept such requests. Uber itself retains an absolute discretion to accept or decline any request for a ride. Where a ride is offered to a driver through the Uber app, however, Uber exercises control over the acceptance of the request by the driver in two ways. One is by controlling the information provided to the driver. The fact that the driver, when informed of a request, is told the passenger’s average rating (from previous trips) allows the driver to avoid low-rated passengers who may be problematic. Notably, however, the driver is not informed of the passenger’s destination until the passenger is picked up and therefore has no opportunity to decline a booking on the basis that the driver does not wish to travel to that particular destination.
97. The second form of control is exercised by monitoring the driver’s rate of acceptance (and cancellation) of trip requests. As described in para 18 above, a driver whose percentage rate of acceptances falls below a level set by Uber London (or whose cancellation rate exceeds a set level) receives an escalating series of warning messages which, if performance does not improve, leads to the driver being automatically logged off the Uber app and shut out from logging back on for ten minutes. This measure was described by Uber in an internal document quoted by the employment tribunal as a “penalty”, no doubt because it has a similar economic effect to docking pay from an employee by preventing the driver from earning during the period while he is logged out of the app. Uber argues that this practice is justified because refusals or cancellations of trip requests cause delay to passengers in finding a driver and lead to customer dissatisfaction. I do not doubt this. The question, however, is not whether the system of control operated by Uber is in its commercial interests, but whether it places drivers in a position of subordination to Uber. It plainly does>>, §§ 96-97.
- Fourth, Uber exercises a significant degree of control over the way in which drivers deliver their services. The fact that drivers provide their own car means that they have more control than would most employees over the physical equipment used to perform their work. Nevertheless, Uber vets the types of car that may be used. Moreover, the technology which is integral to the service is wholly owned and controlled by Uber and is used as a means of exercising control over drivers. Thus, when a ride is accepted, the Uber app directs the driver to the pick-up location and from there to the passenger’s destination. Although, as mentioned, it is not compulsory for a driver to follow the route indicated by the Uber app, customers may complain if a different route is chosen and the driver bears the financial risk of any deviation from the route indicated by the app which the passenger has not approved (see para 8 above). I have already mentioned the control exercised by monitoring a driver’s acceptance and cancellation rates for trips and excluding the driver temporarily from access to the Uber app if he fails to maintain the required rates of acceptance and non-cancellation. A further potent method of control is the use of the ratings system whereby passengers are asked to rate the driver after each trip and the failure of a driver to maintain a specified average rating will result in warnings and ultimately in termination of the driver’s relationship with Uber (see paras 13 and 18 above). It is of course commonplace for digital platforms to invite customers to rate products or services. Typically, however, such ratings are merely made available as information which may assist customers in choosing which product or service to buy. Under such a system the incentive for the supplier of the product or service to gain high ratings is simply the ordinary commercial incentive of satisfying customers in the hope of attracting future business. The way in which Uber makes use of customer ratings is materially different. The ratings are not disclosed to passengers to inform their choice of driver: passengers are not offered a choice of driver with, for example, a higher price charged for the services of a driver who is more highly rated. Rather, the ratings are used by Uber purely as an internal tool for managing performance and as a basis for making termination decisions where customer feedback shows that drivers are not meeting the performance levels set by Uber. This is a classic form of subordination that is characteristic of employment relationships.
- A fifth significant factor is that Uber restricts communication between passenger and driver to the minimum necessary to perform the particular trip and takes active steps to prevent drivers from establishing any relationship with a passenger capable of extending beyond an individual ride. As mentioned, when booking a ride, a passenger is not offered a choice among different drivers and their request is simply directed to the nearest driver available. Once a request is accepted, communication between driver and passenger is restricted to information relating to the ride and is channelled through the Uber app in a way that prevents either from learning the other’s contact details. Likewise, collection of fares, payment of drivers and handling of complaints are all managed by Uber in a way that is designed to avoid any direct interaction between passenger and driver. A stark instance of this is the generation of an electronic document which, although styled as an “invoice” from the driver to the passenger, is never sent to the passenger and, though available to the driver, records only the passenger’s first name and not any further details (see para 10 above). Further, drivers are specifically prohibited by Uber from exchanging contact details with a passenger or contacting a passenger after the trip ends other than to return lost property (see para 12 above)
Complessivamente dunqjue va osservato che <<the transportation service performed by drivers and offered to passengers through the Uber app is very tightly defined and controlled by Uber. Furthermore, it is designed and organised in such a way as to provide a standardised service to passengers in which drivers are perceived as substantially interchangeable and from which Uber, rather than individual drivers, obtains the benefit of customer loyalty and goodwill. From the drivers’ point of view, the same factors – in particular, the inability to offer a distinctive service or to set their own prices and Uber’s control over all aspects of their interaction with passengers – mean that they have little or no ability to improve their economic position through professional or entrepreneurial skill. In practice the only way in which they can increase their earnings is by working longer hours while constantly meeting Uber’s measures of performance.>>, § 101..