Uber Drivers Should Be Classed As Workers And Given Workers’ Rights, Supreme Court Rules

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A taxi next to an Uber outside Paddington Station in London

Uber drivers should be classed as workers and entitled to workers’ rights, the Supreme Court has found.

On Friday, seven justices delivered their ruling on the latest round of a long-running fight between Uber operating companies and drivers.

Tens of thousands of Uber drivers could now be entitled to compensation for lost pay as a result of the ruling, which could amount to an average of £12,000 each.

One driver said he was “delighted” by the ruling. “It’s been a long time coming but I’m delighted that we’ve finally got the victory we deserve,” said Mark Cairns in a statement.

“Being an Uber driver can be stressful. They can ban you from driving for them at the drop of a hat and there’s no appeal process.

“At the very least, we should have the same rights as any other workers and I’m very glad I’m part of the claim.”

The latest ruling by the Supreme Court comes after Uber operating companies have already lost three earlier rounds of the battle.

In 2016, an employment tribunal ruled that Uber drivers were workers and were entitled to workers’ rights. This ruling was upheld by an employment appeal tribunal and by Court of Appeal judges.

Speaking to Supreme Court justices at the virtual hearing, lawyers representing Uber said the employment tribunal ruling had been wrong.

Drivers did not “undertake to work” for Uber but were “independent, third-party contractors”, they claimed.

But lawyers hired by GMB union representing drivers said Uber’s appeal should be dismissed.

Drivers and union bosses have argued they are “workers” entitled to the minimum wage, paid leave and other legal protections.

A spokesperson at GMB described the win as “historic”.

“This has been a gruelling four-year legal battle for our members – but it’s ended in a historic win,” said Mick Rix, GMB national officer. 

“The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of three previous courts, backing up what GMB has said all along; Uber drivers are workers and entitled to breaks, holiday pay and minimum wage.

“Uber must now stop wasting time and money pursuing lost legal causes and do what’s right by the drivers who prop up its empire.”

A spokesperson at Leigh Day law firm has previously said that if Uber lost the Supreme Court fight, the case would return to an employment tribunal to decide on how much compensation drivers should get.

Nigel Mackay, a partner at Leigh Day, said: “Our clients have been fighting for workers’ rights for many years, so we are delighted that the end is finally in sight.

“Uber has consistently suggested that the rulings only affect two drivers, but Leigh Day will be claiming compensation on behalf of the thousands of drivers who have joined its claim.

“For many of the drivers that Leigh Day represents, the claims could be worth thousands of pounds in compensation.”

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