UK's top court rejects Uber appeal, says drivers are workers

  • UK's top court rejects Uber appeal, says drivers are workers

UK's top court rejects Uber appeal, says drivers are workers

The Silicon Valley-based firm appealed the original ruling all the way to Britain's top court.

The U.K. Supreme Court has ruled Friday Feb. 19, 2021, that Uber drivers should be classed as "workers" and not self employed, threatening the Californian company's business model and holds broader implications for the so-called gig economy.

Jamie Heywood, Uber's regional manager for northern and eastern Europe, said: "We respect the Court's decision which focused on a small number of drivers".

Former Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in 2017.

Lord Leggett said that the relationship between Uber and drivers is one of "subordination and dependency" and noted that drivers have little ability to increase their professional skills, and can only boost their earnings by carrying out more work for Uber.

Leggatt added that, essentially, since Uber sets the fare, imposes the contract terms and exerts significant control over the service, it was acting as an employer. The company may be forced to grant additional benefits to drivers including paid time off and a minimum wage.

The case began with two drivers in 2016, who brought the case before the courts as they believed that they should be considered "workers" rather than self-employed. And so whenever the app was active, they were deemed to be working.

The ruling is set for Friday after a years-long legal battle, with the USA taxi and delivery company suffering court defeats in 2017 and 2018.

Supreme Court justices ruled on the latest round of a long-running fight between Uber operating companies and drivers on Friday.

A law firm enlisted by the GMB union to represent Uber drivers says drivers will be entitled to compensation for lost pay.

The UK Supreme Court judgement can be found here. Aslam used to work for another company, but said he was lured to Uber by lucrative pay and bonuses.

But lawyers representing drivers said the tribunal was entitled to conclude that drivers were working. "Neither will be appealing, at a time when their balance sheets have been hit hard by the pandemic", she said.

The taxi giant, who said drivers were contractors not workers, appealed to the Supreme Court after losing three earlier rounds of the fight but lost. "It will shape all future cases concerning the gig economy".

We've reached out to Uber for comment. "As a business, it will need to reflect very carefully on the implications of the judgment".

"During the six years of these proceedings, we have watched the government commission and then shelve a review of the gig economy yet do nothing to help us", Aslam said in a statement on Friday.

"Today's judgment is a crucial milestone in the protection of individuals in our modern economy".

'The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of three previous courts, backing up what GMB has said all along; Uber drivers are workers and entitled to breaks, holiday pay and minimum wage.