Full Judgement of the UK Supreme Court on Uber and the Rights of Drivers
Posted: 22/Feb/2021

On Friday, February 19, 2021, Uber Technologies Inc. lost a U.K. Supreme Court ruling over the rights of its drivers. The Supreme court ruling proved to be a landmark decision and will strike a blow against the gig economy in the U.K. In their ruling, the judges unanimously ruled that Uber drivers are “workers” entitled to rights like minimum wage, holiday pay, and rest breaks.

The ruling comes amid a broader global fight over the rights of workers on apps. Many companies reliant on these kinds of workers have thrived during the global pandemic, deploying drivers to make deliveries to customers stuck at home with shops and restaurants remaining closed.
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Michael Powner, a lawyer, said the ruling will make it difficult for companies that engage people via digital platforms to assert that they are self-employed.

Uber’s fight with drivers over employment rights cuts across its global operations. In the company’s home base in California, drivers are suing to invalidate a ballot measure approved last year that declared them independent contractors. Meanwhile, European Union policymakers are expected to publish recommendations for improving working conditions for gig-economy workers later this month.
Reacting to the ruling, another lawyer, Paul Jennings, said it strikes at the heart of Uber’s business model and that the company will need to reflect very carefully on the ruling’s implications.

The ruling is the end of the road for Uber’s five-year fight over the status of its drivers and another setback in the U.K., which is home to the ride-sharing company’s largest European market. Last year, the company had to fight to retain its license to operate in London after the transport regulator complained about safety concerns.

Uber said that the ruling only applies to the handful of drivers that filed the initial case, but it will start a nationwide consultation, which will take a number of weeks. “This process will seek the views of all active drivers to help us shape the future of flexible work,” the San Francisco-based company said in a statement.

Uber and the wider industry will particularly be looking at the Supreme Court’s question mark over its business model, the firm told Bloomberg. It will update the market on its next steps once they’ve read the ruling in detail and have completed the consultation.

Source: Bloomberg.