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Ubers UK Court Loss means a balance sheet for concert work in Europe

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(Bloomberg) – The defeat of Uber Technologies Inc. in a UK legal battle over how it treats its drivers is expected to spark a wave of complaints from workers across the region.

The UK Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Uber must treat its drivers like workers, giving them access to vacation pay, breaks and minimum wage while they use the app. The ruling applies to the handful of people who brought the case back in 2016. Jamie Heywood, regional director general for Northern and Eastern Europe, said on Friday that Uber has made significant changes since then .

Read more: Uber loses UK driver court ruling in blow-to-gig economy

The ruling nonetheless paves the way for further complaints – and not just from Uber drivers. Those who make deliveries for companies like Amazon.com Inc., which uses third-party services that employ freelance workers, as well as other smaller players, now have a clearer avenue to challenge the working conditions of their platforms. -forms, said Mick Rix, a national official for the GMB union. The GMB, which has more than 620,000 members, will use the move to take other technology platforms, he said.

It wasn’t just about Uber, it was about the gig economy, Rix said. It’s a bogus and bogus job model, and it’s bogus and people are being exploited.

With its booming tech scene, the UK is one of the region’s most important markets for platforms that connect freelancers with jobs, from carpooling to food delivery and others. independent work. Its largest European Ubers market based in San Francisco.

Any business with an odd-job economy model should take that into account today, said Michelle Hobbs, employment law expert at Stevens & Bolton. This landmark decision undoubtedly increases the pressure on small-economy businesses to provide much better conditions for those who work for them.

Read more: The gig economy is coming for millions of American jobs

These platform workers are typically employed as independent contractors, allowed to set their own hours and choose the jobs they do. But criticism has multiplied as these people become a larger part of the workforce.

The Covid-19 pandemic has turned couriers into essential front-line workers, putting them at risk of exposure to the disease and putting pressure on tech companies to ensure they receive benefits such as ” sickness insurance or compensation if they have to stop working.

Amazon representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

European Union policymakers are expected to issue recommendations for improving working conditions later this month. In Spain, the government is preparing changes to labor laws that could force food delivery platforms to formally employ couriers. A French court said last year that the relationship between Uber and a driver constituted an employment contract.

Some technology-driven food vendors have taken a different approach. The CEO of Just Eat Takeaway.com NV, a Dutch competitor to food delivery service Ubers in Europe, said in a post on his Twitter page on Friday that the move was pretty much the end of the concert economy in Europe. . The company pays its drivers hourly wages and other benefits as part of its Scoober service, while its much more profitable market service allows restaurants to deliver the food themselves.

In a letter to the editors of the Financial Times published on Friday, Jitse Groen said that the use of the platforms by independent contractors had led to precarious working conditions across Europe, the worst seen in a hundred years. He called on policymakers to implement rules that would define all food delivery people as staff.

However, the outcome for many businesses that rely on these workers will depend on the details. UK law differentiates between employees, who are entitled to all legal employment rights such as severance pay, and workers, who are entitled to minimum wage and vacation pay, but not to all the advantages.

Strict labor laws will drastically limit flexibility and could ultimately be a bad thing for couriers, said Sacha Michaud, co-founder of Spanish delivery app Glovo. It goes without saying that this will also have a negative impact on our operations, stifling our geographic expansion to smaller towns, and this impact will be felt by independent local SMEs that are unable to offer their own delivery services.

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