Uber drivers are employees, for British justice

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The British Supreme Court ruled in a long-awaited decision on Friday that Uber drivers could be considered employees, dismissing the appeal of the American car booking giant whose business model in the United Kingdom could be upset.

The highest British court has unanimously ruled against Uber. This decision means that Uber drivers should be entitled, for example, to a minimum wage or paid vacation, which could even snowball for all digital platforms.

Read also: In Geneva, Uber Eats must now use employees

Uber had taken the Supreme Court after losing twice, in 2017 and 2018, in court. Justice will therefore have each time ruled in favor of a group of about twenty Uber drivers who felt they were entitled to employee status, given the time spent connected to the application and the control exercised by the group, for example over their Evaluation.

The company has ensured since the beginning of this long legal battle that the drivers are self-employed, choosing their schedules and places of work, and sometimes collaborating on several applications at the same time.

This Supreme Court decision means that the drivers who lodged the complaint will be able to turn to a court to obtain compensation. And in theory, other drivers can then ask the courts to obtain employee status.

The platform, which is not profitable on a global scale, could have no other choice but to increase its prices in the United Kingdom, even if it means losing market share if its competitors are not subject to these same rules.

The decision could spill over into all of the digital platforms in the UK that operate thanks to workers in the “gig economy”, literally the economy of odd jobs. The deliverers of the meal delivery platform Deliveroo, for example, are trying before the London Court of Appeal to be able to benefit from a collective agreement.

Insurance and leave

For its part, Uber explains that it has changed its practices since the start of this affair. Drivers can now choose when and where they drive and can access free health insurance, as well as compensation for parental leave.

Uber also promises now that it intends to offer more protection to its drivers, while maintaining the status of self-employed. Managing Director Dara Khosrowshahi on Monday unveiled a series of proposals to governments and unions in Europe.

Read also: Geneva urges Uber to comply with the law

The objective is to guarantee transparent and fair remuneration to drivers and to offer them more advantages. The platform advocates for the creation of a fund financed by the sector that would allow drivers to access assistance and social protection, such as being paid during holidays.

Uber plans to be able to replicate in Europe what it has proposed in California but could face appeals. This American state had passed a law that was to force the platform to hire its tens of thousands of drivers in California.

But voters approved in a referendum in November “Proposition 22,” Uber’s solution whereby drivers are self-employed but receive compensation.