UK Uber ruling reframes drivers
A UK court has ruled Uber drivers are ‘workers’, not independent contractors.
The Court of Appeal has affirmed a 2016 ruling classifying Uber drivers as workers, which means they are entitled to holiday pay, sick pay and a minimum wage.
It has the potential to shatter Uber's business model, which relies on drivers giving up normal rights in exchange for the illusion of ‘flexibility’.
It means some drivers could be owed as much as 18,000 British pounds ($31,700) each in backpay and entitlements.
The case was undertaken on behalf of two drivers, one of whom was prompted to take action when he was assaulted by a passenger but had to wait over 10 weeks for Uber to provide information on the attack to police.
“I realised that I'm carrying all the risk, and not Uber,” he told reporters.
“And that's when we began to look at the real underlying issue here, and that's the lack of worker rights, the lack of protection, and that was the starting point.”
Australian barrister Sheryn Omeri argued on behalf of the drivers.
She was able to persuade the court that the standard contract between Uber and the workforce was invalid because the bargaining power between each side was not balanced and did not properly represent the reality of their relationship.
“No-one is saying that Uber technology is a bad thing, it's a very good thing in that it enables these opportunities for people to obtain work and earn their livelihood,” she told the ABC.
“The issue is it can't be permitted to expand at the expense of the rights of the people who give that technology life.”