Uber’s not having the best of times in London at the moment: today it lost its appeal over a decision on driver classification. An employment tribunal has upheld a decision made last year drivers are not self-employed but must be treated as workers employed by Uber.
That means drivers are entitled to workers’ rights, including the minimum wage, holiday pay, and paid rest breaks, which they wouldn’t get if they were classed as self-employed. Uber says it’s going to appeal again, possibly in the Supreme Court.
One of the drivers at the centre of the case welcomed the decision: “I’d like Uber to sit down and work out how as quickly as possible that every driver who is working for Uber get the rights they are entitled to,” James Farrar told the BBC.
Uber, on the other hand, says drivers prefer the flexibility of being self-employed. “Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed,” Tom Elvidge, Uber UK’s acting general manager, told The Guardian, emphasising the improvements the company has made with illness and accident cover for drivers.
The decision comes as Uber battles to keep on operating in London in any capacity at all – it’s currently working through an appeal against a ban put in place by Transport for London, over concerns about crime reporting and background checks for drivers.
Both the London ban and driver right issues have a while to play out yet, but these decisions are likely to go way beyond the 50,000 Uber drivers currently working in the UK – any legal rulings will have repercussions for all the up-and-coming services based on a flexible, freelance workforce, including the likes of Deliveroo.