• Uber loses final appeal against drivers’ employment status in UK

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    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 will 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. That means the drivers are entitled to a minimum wage, paid holiday, and other legal protections. Judge George Leggatt said Uber drivers working time isn’t limited to 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 will have a significant impact on 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.

    The original case against Uber was bought in 2016 by two drivers for the company, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam. They argued that Uber controlled nearly all the aspects of their working conditions, including who they could accept for rides and how much they would be paid, meaning the company was acting as their employer.

    Uber lost three cases against Farrar and Aslam in 2016, 2017, and 2018. But today’s judgement from the Supreme Court, the UK’s final court of appeal, ends their legal options. The dispute will now return to a specialty tribunal, according to Bloomberg, which will decide how much to award the drivers.

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