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Uber case highlights employers’ driving at work health and safety responsibilities

Uber, whose mobile app lets users provide and book taxi services, is facing legal action over its drivers’ health and safety rights.

Currently, Uber does not consider its drivers to be employees, but the professional drivers’ union GMB has claimed that drivers are owed the same rights as any employee is owed by its employer.

These include rights provisioned by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which require employers to take reasonable measures to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees and carry out risk assessments for all employees and work tasks.

Health and Safety responsibilities

The case highlights the health and safety responsibilities of all employers whose staff drive for work purposes – not just professional drivers.

Work-related driving accounts for around quarter of road accidents in the UK, making it one of the most dangerous work activities people undertake. Whether in their own vehicle or a company vehicle, if staff drive to reach meetings, make deliveries, transport clients, or attend events then several health and safety procedures must be in place.

As described in detail in our Driving At Work eLearning course, undertaking risk assessments, checking documentation, and providing communication and consultation with employees are some of the measures employers must put in place to ensure compliance with Health and Safety legislation.

Health and Safety measures should also ensure that drivers are fit to drive, their vehicles are well maintained, and the chance of an accident is minimal.

Discussing Uber, Steve Garelick of the GMB said: “Operators like Uber must understand that they have an ethical and social policy that matches society’s expectations of fair and honest treatment,” something which also applies to all businesses whose employees drive for work.

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