Transport for London's (TfL's) decision not to renew Uber's licence to operate in London is a divisive topic.

On the one hand, it's an effort to challenge a company that is deemed, by some, to have played hard and fast with workers' rights and had little regard for customer safety.

On the other hand, it has the potential to jeopardise the livelihoods of around 40,000 drivers and increase the cost of a convenient form of travel for 3.5 million Londoners.

Pre-employment checks

In coming to its decision, TfL referred to Uber's "lack of corporate responsibility" in failing to properly vet their drivers and putting public safety at risk.

Whether you're in favour of the ban or not, TfL's decision is a stark reminder for all employers of the importance of making a job offer subject to conditions and carrying out pre-employment checks. What will be appropriate will depend on the nature of the role and the relevant employment sector but commonly an offer is made subject to:

  • Receipt of satisfactory references;
  • Confirmation that the employee has permission to work in the UK;
  • Receipt of a satisfactory medical report or questionnaire (bearing in mind that it is generally unlawful to ask questions about an applicant's health before you make a job offer - see our earlier blog on pre-employment medical screening);
  • Confirmation that the employee holds the qualifications they claim to have;
  • Confirmation that the employee is not restricted from working e.g. in terms of a restrictive covenant; and
  • Receipt of any necessary background checks. Is there a specific industry requirement? Are credit checks appropriate? Is a criminal record check necessary?

Users of Workbox, the employment team's online HR portal, can have a look at our detailed guidance on pre-employment checks here.

Appeal against decision on employment status

Separately, Uber is appealing against an employment tribunal decision that its drivers fell "full square" within the definition of workers (as opposed to self-employed contractors), meaning they are entitled to rights such as the national minimum wage and paid holidays. Read our blog for more details.

The appeal was heard last week and we'll be publishing another blog on the outcome - and its implications - when the Employment Appeal Tribunal issues its decision.

In the meantime, users of Workbox can access information on the different rights of employees, workers and the self-employed, along with guidance on identifying which category your staff fall into, on our employment status page.