Uber is to begin classifying about 70,000 of its drivers in the UK as workers. They will also get some employment as a result. This will happen because Uber lost an appeal at the Supreme Court level in February 2021 after a years-long legal battle over their employment status.
The Drivers will still not be considered full-time employees but will get holiday time and receive a minimum wage while driving fares. Uber will also enroll them in a pension plan starting on 17th March 2021.
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However, there are some caveats. The drivers are only eligible for a minimum wage after accepting trip requests, but they’ll not get an hourly rate. This in a way goes against a February Supreme Court ruling that “time spent … working for Uber was not limited (as Uber argued) to periods when they were actually driving passengers to their destinations, but included any period when the driver was logged into the Uber app”.
In 2016, two drivers argued in court that the company had too much control over their actions for it not to consider them as employees. Uber lost the suit but appealed all the way up to the UK Supreme Court. There they lost again as the Supreme Court upheld the previous decisions.
Across the pond In California, voters approved Prop 22, a ballot measure that reversing a previous decision to classify drivers as employees. And although the gig companies claim that classifying drivers as employees would make things more expensive for customers, most of them have raised their prices anyways.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in an Evening Standard Op-Ed said it is “increasingly clear to us that flexibility alone is insufficient, and that it should not come at the expense of social protections”. He however added that his beliefs that the “outdated employment laws essentially force that trade-off”.
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