The driver uses the Uber app to drop off passengers in London.
Chris J. Ratcliffe | Bloomberg via Getty Images
London Uber lost a major legal battle on Friday as the British Supreme Court defended the ruling that drivers are workers, not independent contractors.
The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Uber’s appeal against the ruling. This decision could have a major impact on Uber’s UK business and the wider gig economy.
Friday’s verdict ends a nearly five-year legal battle between Uber and a group of former drivers claiming to be workers entitled to employment rights such as minimum wages, holiday pay, and breaks.
In 2016, the Employment Court ruled in favor of drivers headed by Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar, who claimed that they were workers employed by Uber and therefore entitled to certain labor protection.
Uber claims that the driver is self-employed and acts as a “agent” connecting passengers through the app. Uber wants to keep the legal classification of drivers as independent contractors, and drivers claim they prefer this “gig” model as it is more flexible and helps Uber in terms of cost as well.
In a statement Friday, Jamie Heywood, Uber’s general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said in a statement on Friday, “We respect the court’s decision to focus on the few drivers who used the Uber app in 2016.”
“Since then, we have made some significant changes to our business at every step, guided by the driver, including tighter control over how you earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of illness or injury. It’s possible.”
Heywood added: “We are committed to doing more and we now work with all active drivers across the UK to understand the change they want.”
The UK case reflects Uber’s legal struggle with California regulators. California regulators last year attempted to provide more employment protection by reclassifying drivers of other vehicle services such as Uber and Lyft as employees.
However, voters supported a ballot measure called Proposition 22 that exempts Uber and other gig economy platforms from reclassifying drivers as employees.
What happens next?
The Supreme Court ruling potentially jeopardizes Uber’s business model in the UK. This applies only to drivers involved in the 2016 incident, but theoretically applies to other drivers using the Uber app.
Now the company has to go back to the employment tribunal to determine the compensation for the group of drivers. However, you may face additional charges from thousands of other drivers in the country.
This also has a major impact on the UK gig economy, which is believed to have a workforce of around 5.5 million. Other companies operating models similar to Uber include Bolt, Ola, and Deliveroo.
Helen Crossland said, “This ruling will undoubtedly have a broad and widespread impact on all operators of the gig economy, making it harder for companies that engage people through digital platforms to claim to be self-employed despite contract documents that may otherwise be specified. I will make it.” , Is a partner of British law firm Seddons.
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