Uber drivers in the UK cannot be considered independent contractors.
Since it became a public company several years ago, ridesharing service Uber has been part of an ongoing conversation about what does and does not constitute self-employment. Uber has previously claimed that the company merely acts as an intermediary between rideshare workers and clients, and that Uber drivers are not actually considered employees of the company. However, due to this distinction, Uber drivers all over the world have had difficulty making living wages, as they don’t have protections like minimum wage guarantees. As of today, this distinction no longer exists, at least in the UK.
The UK Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that Uber drivers cannot be considered independent contractors, as their work is, in the court’s words, “very tightly defined and controlled by Uber.”
While the major impacts of this ruling have not yet been made clear, it has some major implications for how Uber will do business in the UK in the future. If Uber drivers are considered employees of the company, they would become eligible for the country’s federal minimum wage requirements, as well as paid time off.
In a statement, Uber said it was “committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver across the UK to understand the changes they want to see.”
“We respect the Court’s decision which focused on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016. Since then we have made some significant changes to our business, guided by drivers every step of the way. These include giving even more control over how they earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of sickness or injury,” said Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe.
Breaking News: Uber suffered a defeat as Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that drivers must be classified as workers entitled to a minimum wage and time off.https://t.co/IGpEvbHKfx
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 19, 2021
“It took us six years to establish what we should have got in 2015. Someone somewhere, in the government or the regulator, massively let down these workers, many of whom are in a precarious position,” said Yaseen Aslam, a former Uber driver who sued the company in 2016.
“I think the right thing for Uber to do is if they want to continue, they can continue, but they just need to respect their workers, the people that are the backbone of this industry,” he added.