Uber has lost the final appeal in a long-running UK legal battle over whether its drivers are self-employed or legally-recognized workers with all the attendant rights, Bloomberg reports. The ruling is the conclusion of the company’s five-year legal fight in the country and a major setback for Uber that could affect all gig workers in the UK, regardless of employer.
Today, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers are, indeed, workers, confirming the decision made by three lower courts. The unanimous decision means drivers are entitled to a minimum wage, paid holiday, and other legal protections. Judge George Leggatt said Uber driver’s working time isn’t limited to the time spent driving passengers, but also “includes any period when a driver is logged into the app and ready and willing to accept trips.”
The ruling could significantly impact the UK’s estimated 4.7 million gig economy workers, affecting not just tech giants like Uber and food delivery firm Deliveroo, but also less well-known companies like couriers CitySprint and plumbing outfit Pimlico Plumbers.
In response to the ruling, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said that the company respect’s the court’s decision, but added that it “focused on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016,” and that the ruling doesn’t reclassify all of its UK drivers as workers.
“Since then, we have made some significant changes to our business, guided by drivers every step of the way,” Heywood said. “These include giving even more control over how they earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of sickness or injury. We are committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver across the UK to understand the changes they want to see.”