World News

Uber to appeal after losing challenge to ruling on drivers' employment rights

Uber to appeal after losing challenge to ruling on drivers' employment rights

A British employment tribunal has delivered a major blow to Uber, ruling that its drivers needed to be classified as workers and receive a minimum wage, sick leave and paid time off. It frames itself as a technology platform, connecting riders and drivers and taking a fee in the process.

Nigel Mackay, employment solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, which is representing the drivers, said: "We are very pleased that the EAT has rejected Uber's appeal".

Courts and tribunals have tended to look behind gig economy companies' convoluted "self-employment" agreements to find that their workforces are in fact made up of "workers".

Commenting on the landmark ruling, Jon Heuvel, employment partner at Shakespeare Martineau, said few should be surprised by the development because Uber had it coming.

More news: National Football League owners to discuss Roger Goodell's contract extension Monday
More news: Tennessee recruit: Butch Jones 'told me to find a place to go'
More news: US Air Force: Iran provided capability for missile attacks from Yemen

In the wake of the ruling, the company has said it will appeal the court's decision and take it to the Supreme Court, more so as the ruling could have massive implications for Uber's operating model.

Uber drivers, whose contracts of employment are created to make them appear self-employed, successfully argued in an employment tribunal that they are in fact workers. "This is clearly not the case with people who drive through Uber - they choose when and how long they work for by logging on or off the app", said Chris Bryce, chief executive of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed. "We've also invested in things like access to illness and injury cover and we'll keep introducing changes to make driving with Uber even better". The practice is found in other "gig economy" companies, like TaskRabbit, where people work on demand through a digital marketplace. "If they want to continue here they just have to accept these are the basic standards".

While appeals from the EAT are normally heard in the Court of Appeal, there is a procedure in place for cases of particular legal significance to be "fast-tracked" to the Supreme Court.

Heuvel added that the ruling will impact not only Uber and others in the transport sector, but a whole number of other industries and businesses which use self-employed workers. "I think then the driver potentially moves into a self-employed space where they're marketing their services to the world through a range of portals". It says its drivers enjoy the flexibility that self-employment brings.