Ride hailing giant Uber has lost its appeal against what employment lawyers and trade unions have been calling a landmark ruling, ordering it to treat its drivers as fully-fledged employees of the company, and not self-employed.
But what does the ruling actually mean and should we, as customers, care?
What does Friday’s ruling actually mean?
In a London court on Friday, Judge Jennifer Eady QC threw out Uber’s arguments against a previous tribunal’s findings that its drivers must be classed as workers and afforded the corresponding rights under UK and EU law.
That means that the California-based company will have to pay drivers a minimum wage in the UK, provide sick pay and holiday pay.
The case was brought by two drivers — Mr Farrar and Mr Aslam – who won the first round of the tribunal in October 2016, but Uber appealed that decision at the time claiming that it would deprive drivers of the “personal flexibility they value”.
What does the ruling mean for drivers in the long run?
Mareike Mohlmann, an assistant professor of information systems management at Warwick Business School, said that the ruling – if implemented – could change a lot for drivers.
“This decision is likely to result in advantages, some drivers might receive a higher salary once being officially employed by Uber since they might now get compensated for sick leave or holiday pay. It might be easier for them to have a voice when organising in workers’ associations, and thus this decision is likely to increase drivers’ work satisfaction,” she says.
But she also says that there could be drawbacks in that it could decrease drivers’ autonomy.
“Currently, Uber drivers are self-employed and work as freelancers. Thus, for instance, they can choose their working hours as they please, or use the car not only for business but also for private purposes,” she explains.
“Due to this flexibility to work whenever it fits into their schedule, many Uber drivers are not driving full-time, but using Uber as a source to generate income in addition to their main job. The decision might limit access to jobs for some of the current Uber drivers, in particular those that work for Uber on a part-time basis, since Uber might hire less employees that are employed in full-time positions in future.”
How has Uber reacted?
Uber immediately issued a statement condemning the decision and said that it intends to appeal. It said that there are up to two further potential stages in the appeals process: the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
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