Uber lost a long-running battle in the UK on Friday, when the country’s Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers should be classified as workers rather than self-employed and therefore entitled to certain rights. The decision means that a group of drivers who brought a legal challenge against Uber five years ago were entitled to minimum pay and holiday pay.
The court clarified that those entitlements should be counted from the moment drivers begin work to log on at the time, rather than being a passenger in their vehicle. The ruling could have far-reaching consequences not only for Uber, but also for the wider gig economy and minicab industry in the UK.
The case was originally brought to an employment tribunal in 2016 by drivers James Farrar and Yasin Aslam, a preliminary decision was taken in his favor. Uber has challenged the ruling several times, but the case passed by every court has upheld the original decision of the tribunal.
“This decision will basically re-order the gig economy and end exploitation of workers through algorithms and contract trickery,” Farrar, who served as general secretary of the App Drivers and Couriers Union, said in a statement on Friday. . “Uber drivers are cruelly selling a false dream of endless flexibility and entrepreneurial freedom. In reality there is illegally low pay, dangerously long hours and intensive digital surveillance.”
Together Farrar and Aslam asked the government to strengthen the law for weak gig economy workers to protect them from sick pay and unfair dismissal.
In a blog post, Uber reported that there was a difference in UK law between workers and workers, and the decision no longer gave Uber drivers full employee status. It also emphasized that the ruling only applies to drivers who initially brought the case and that many of the issues called for in the decision no longer apply the changes implemented from that time.
“We respect the court’s ruling that focused on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016,” Uber’s regional general manager Jamie Heywood said in a statement. “Since then we have made some significant changes to our business, being guided by drivers at every step. These include giving more control over and providing new protection such as free insurance in case of illness or injury.”
Heywood said the company is committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver in the UK to understand the changes they want to see.