Uber loses appeal over UK worker rights

Uber has lost its appeal over a ruling that UK drivers for the ride-sharing service be entitled to basic workers’ rights.

In move that the union for professional drivers – the GMB – is calling a “vindication” for its campaign, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has decided to uphold a ruling that Uber employees be classified as workers rather than self-employed.

The company had disputed an October 2016 ruling, which determined that Uber drivers should be entitled to basic workers’ rights including holiday pay and a guaranteed minimum wage. Uber claimed the ruling would deprive drivers of the “personal flexibility they value”.

GMB has said it is “delighted” at the decision made today by EAT to uphold the original employment tribunal ruling.

“This landmark decision is yet more vindication for GMB’s campaign to ensure drivers are given the rights they are entitled to – and that the public, drivers and passengers are kept safe,” said Maria Ludkin, GMB’s legal director.

“Uber must now face up to its responsibilities and give its workers the rights to which they are entitled. […] GMB urges the company not to waste everyone’s time and money dragging their lost cause to the Supreme Court.”

Uber UK’s acting general manager, Tom Elvidge, said: “Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed. The main reason why drivers use Uber is because they value the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive and so we intend to appeal.

“The tribunal relies on the assertion that drivers are required to take 80 per cent of trips sent to them when logged into the app. As drivers who use Uber know, this has never been the case in the UK.

“Over the last year we have made a number of changes to our app to give drivers even more control. 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.”

Frances O’Grady, general secretary for the Trade Union Congress (TUC), said: “Uber should throw in the towel and accept today’s judgment. No company, however big or well-connected, is above the law. Uber must play by the rules and stop denying its drivers basic rights at work.

“This ruling should put gig economy employers on notice. Unions will expose nasty schemes that try and cheat workers out of the minimum wage and holiday pay. Sham self-employment exploits people and scams the taxman.”

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