Published: Fri, November 10, 2017
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Uber dealt another blow over drivers' rights in UK

Uber dealt another blow over drivers' rights in UK

Popular ride-sharing app Uber has lost an appeal against a ruling of employment rights requested by drivers.

Drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam won a case against the ride-hailing app previous year after arguing they were workers and entitled to the minimum wage, sick pay and paid holiday. "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 move could affect as many as 40,000 Uber drivers in Britain, the company's largest market in Europe, where about 3.5 million people use the service.

"Uber must now face up to its responsibilities and give its workers the rights to which they are entitled", said GMB legal director Maria Ludkin.

The ride-hailing service said it has never required drivers in the accept 80 percent of the trips offered to them and that drivers make well above the minimum wage.

Tom Elvidge, the firm's acting general manager in Britain, said in a statement that taxi and private hire drivers in Britain had been self-employed for decades, "long before our app existed". Farrar also claimed his net earnings in 2015 were £5.03, well under London's minimum wage. Uber is also appealing that decision.

"GMB is delighted the EAT made the correct decision to uphold the original employment tribunal ruling".

The tribunal ruled Uber drivers should be classed as employees rather than self-employed contractors.

It added that the tribunal's view that drivers had to be in the area with the app switched on and "able and willing to accept assignments" was consistent with Uber's own description of a driver's obligation when "on duty". The decision reflects a general trend for the courts to step in situations in which "the individuals involved are in a position of substantial inequality and in that case merit protection", said employment attorney Susannah Kintish of Mishcon de Reya, which is not involved in the Uber case.

The GMB, a general trade union in the United Kingdom with more than 600,000 members, called the ruling a "monumental victory".

The setback comes just months after Transport for London barred Uber from operating in the city after choosing not to renew its license.

Uber, which is valued at around $70 billion with backers including Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, will be back in court on December 11 to appeal a decision by London's transport regulator to strip the app of its license.

Uber said it would appeal against the tribunal's decision Friday.

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