Uber loses appeal in landmark United Kingdom case over its drivers' employment rights

DOUNIAMAG-BRITAIN-US-TRANSPORT-TAXI-UBER

Drivers, backed by the IWGB union, argued that they should be classified as "workers" with rights such as minimum wage and holiday pay, rather than self-employed as Uber claimed.

The San Francisco-based company could continue its battle, by appealing to Britain's Court of Appeal or even the Supreme Court.

"Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed", said Uber UK's acting general manager Tom Elvidge.

"The [ruling] relies on the assertion that drivers are required to take 80 percent of trips sent to them when logged into the app". The company this year has faced a wave of challenges for its brash business style and aggressive expansion, including allegations it does not properly vet its drivers and that it uses software to deceive authorities in areas where Uber's introduction was resisted.

Uber is now fighting TfL's decision, but its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has admitted that the company needs to make changes to the way it does business.

The ruling will have significant implications for approximately 40,000 Uber drivers and, more broadly, individuals engaged across the so called "gig economy".

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Chris Bryce, chief executive of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), said: "The growing number of employment tribunals linked to the gig economy shows there is a fundamental lack of clarity over what it means to work on your own behalf".

Jennings added: "They've achieved market dominance at the expense of drivers. If they want to make things right, just obey the laws".

But Uber drivers shouldn't get too excited about the prospect of receiving standard worker benefits just yet.

BuzzFeed News understands Uber will proceed with further appeals, with the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court two possible stages in the appeal process.

Paul Jennings, a partner at law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite, which represented the drivers in the EAT, said: "We are delighted with today's judgment, which is ethically and legally the right outcome".

"The cloud of uncertainty looming over the gig economy has undoubtedly made new businesses in the United Kingdom cautious about building a business model around a self-employed ad-hoc workforce, which may be further stagnating growth and therefore damaging the United Kingdom economy". It says its drivers enjoy the flexibility that self-employment brings. I suffered a lot, so have so many other drivers.

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