UK court rules: Uber drivers are employees and deserve benefits

Billed as a landmark decision regarding the future of the gig economy, the UK Court of Appeal has ruled that Uber drivers are not self-employed, and are therefore entitled to employee benefits such as holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and break allowances. CNBC reports:

A judge at the U.K.’s Court of Appeal, the second-highest court in the land, ruled in favor of Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, who in 2016 argued at an employment tribunal that they were employees working for the company, rather than self-employed.

Uber argues that its drivers should be treated as self-employed — much in the same way that most traditional taxi drivers are — rather than workers directly employed by the company. It says it should be treated more like an agency that connects drivers with passengers. According to the company, this arrangement provides more flexibility for its drivers, allowing them to work on their own terms.

As you can imagine, Uber is rather upset at the ruling, arguing (not without merit) that many drivers don’t want to be considered employees anyway. A spokesperson sent this to reporters today:

“This decision was not unanimous and does not reflect the reasons why the vast majority of drivers choose to use the Uber app. We have been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court and will do so.

Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed. Drivers who use the Uber app make more than the London Living Wage and want to keep the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive. If drivers were classified as workers they would inevitably lose some of the freedom and flexibility that comes with being their own boss.

Over the last two years we’ve made many changes to give drivers even more control over how they use the app, alongside more security through sickness, maternity and paternity protections. We’ll keep listening to drivers and introduce further improvements.”