London– Ride-hailing major Uber has lost a long running employment tribunal challenge in the UK’s Supreme Court — with the court dismissing its appeal and reaffirming earlier rulings that drivers who brought the case are workers, not independent contractors.
The case, which dates back to 2016, has major ramifications for Uber’s business model in the UK — and likely regionally, as similar challenges are ongoing in European courts.
European Union (EU) lawmakers are also actively eyeing conditions for gig workers, so policymakers were already facing pressure to clarify the law around gig work — today’s ruling only increases that, TechCrunch reported on Friday.
The court rejected Uber’s argument that it merely acted akin to a booking agent for drivers, noting that the company would have no means of performing its contractual obligations to passengers (nor complying with its regulatory obligations as a licensed private hire vehicle operator) — “without either employees or subcontractors to perform driving services for it”.
The court also weighed how Uber’s business operates in light of UK employment law which provides for a ‘worker’ status — a classification which is neither employed nor self-employed — considering other case law and the detail of the drivers’ relationship with Uber in coming to its interpretation of the legislation.
Its conclusion is that “the transportation service performed by drivers and offered to passengers through the Uber app is very tightly defined and controlled by Uber”.
“Although free to choose when and where they worked, at times when they are working drivers work for and under contracts with Uber (and, specifically, Uber London),” the court wrote, noting its agreement with the earlier tribunal ruling Uber also lost. (IANS)