After losing a major labor batter in the United Kingdom, Uber is set to re-classify UK-based drivers as workers. As such, more than 70,000 drivers will receive some benefits, such as minimum wage, holiday time and pension contributions. However, they will not get full employee benefits.
Uber, earlier this year, lost a legal battle with the Supreme Court upholding a ruling that a group of drivers were workers, not independent contractors. According to Wired, judges in the UK’s highest court unanimously upheld a 2016 Employment Tribunal decision that said drivers are in a “position of subordination and dependency to Uber”.
The company had argued that it merely provides a technology service through the Uber app, which helps connect the Uber driver with the passenger, as well as acts as a payment collection agent for the drivers. It also relied upon the terms of the written agreement, and contended that as soon as the driver is connected with the passenger, a contract is created between them, and Uber no longer remains a party to the transaction.
Analysts believe this ruling will set an important precedent for how millions of gig economy workers are treated in the United Kingdom. Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber CEO, wrote in an op-ed in The Evening Standard that the company could have continued to dispute drivers’ rights to any of these protections in court, but instead decided to turn the page. “They have a point, though I hope the path that we chose shows our willingness to change.”
Analysts told The Wired that the judgment means that self-employed people working for Uber would have the same rights as workers for the first time. It includes the right to be paid national minimum wage, to be given the statutory minimum level of paid holiday and rest breaks, to be protected from unlawful discrimination and whistle blowing in the workplace, and not to be treated less favourably if they work part time.