LONDON, February 20: Uber drivers are not self-employed, but are legally workers for Uber, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has ruled.
As workers, Uber drivers in Britain and Northern Ireland will now be eligible to receive minimum wage, benefits and a wide range of protections from Uber.
During the deliberations, the Supreme Court did not accept Uber’s claim that they are merely an online platform connecting drivers with customers, without the obligations of a traditional employer. Uber told the court that, unlike traditional employees, its drivers decide when, where and how much they work.
It was noted in court that Uber exerts significant influences over its drivers-and over the driver-passenger relationship-as opposed to a conventional online platform, such as eBay or Airbnb.
Specifically, the court heard how Uber sets fares and collects payments, deducts its own fees and pays the remaining money to the drivers. It also requires drivers to accept a majority of requested rides.
In handing down the ruling, Justice Lord George Leggatt said, “Drivers are in a position of subordination and dependency in relation to Uber, such that they have little or no ability to improve their economic position through professional or entrepreneurial skill.”
The ruling also called for drivers to be paid during times they are working, but do not have customers in their cars. Critics of the court decision have said that this could result in Uber restricting the number of days and hours drivers are scheduled to work.
Worldwide, France and Spain have classified Uber drivers as legal workers entitled to the rights and protections of any employee. In the United States, similar court cases against Uber have been heard in New York state, as well as Massachusetts, California and other states.