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Uber, the Taylor Review, Mutuality and the Duty Not to Misrepresent Employment Status

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Early online date6 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jul 2018

King's Authors


Do employing entities have a responsibility to not misrepresent the employment status of their staff? This article suggests that recent jurisprudence does create this responsibility. The article starts, first, by discussing the much-awaited Taylor Review, released in July 2017. This purported to address the problems of employment rights and tax in the software-driven ‘gig’ economy. Four main groups of Taylor’s recommendations were to relabel employment statuses and write more secondary legislation, reform tax, cut paid holidays and introduce new ‘soft’ labour rights. These proposals do not address the real issues. Second, this article explains why a test for employment status highlighted by Taylor—‘mutuality of obligation’—has not formed part of binding UK Supreme Court jurisprudence since Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher. Third, it discusses what the Taylor Review did not: the problem of misrepresentation of employment status, which has become closely associated with the gig economy. In October 2017, the Supreme Court issued a path-breaking judgment that changed the requirements for fraud cases, aligning the tests for civil and criminal fraud and therefore making fraud claims easier. This is relevant because of the very serious finding, in Aslam v Uber BV [2017] IRLR 4, [96] by the Employment Tribunal that Uber provided an ‘excellent illustration … of “armies of lawyers” contriving documents in their clients’ interests which simply misrepresent the true rights and obligations on both sides’. This raises the question of whether ‘contriving’ to ‘misrepresent’ something enables fraud claims, either by staff who seek employment rights or by public authorities for tax receipts or social security contributions.

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