Tue, 8th Jan 2019
Uber, the gig-economy based taxi company, has been hit with a significant blow in the UK, as the courts ruled that drivers are employees and that they qualify for minimum wage and holiday pay. The judgement was made in a previous tribunal, and Uber had appealed, but senior judges at the London Court of Appeal ruled that driers are workers.
Unions welcome the ruling, however, Uber plans to appeal it in the Supreme Court. The ride-hailing company believes that drivers are self-employed. The ruling, if it stands, will have big implications for the wider ‘gig economy’.
Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton says that the tribunal was not only entitled, but also correct, to find that the claimants in the tribunal cases were workers. Lord Justice Bean agrees with the ruling. Uber’s appeal was dismissed. One judge did disagree. Lord Justice Underhill says that drivers should only be classed as working from the moment that they accepted a trip. He said that the matters raised in the appeal were ones of policy, which Parliament would be in a better place to consider, and added that the question of how to adapt existing employment law protections to this newly evolved gig economy is something that the Government is reviewing at the moment.
Uber has been going through a turbulent time. The company could be valued at almost £100 billion in a flotation, but it has seen protests, crackdowns and license losses all over the world, with unions criticizing the company’s employment policies.