LONDON – Britain’s Supreme Court on Friday ruled that Uber drivers are “workers” entitled to the rights including a minimum wage and paid holidays.
According to a statement, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Uber’s appeal and ruled that Uber drivers are working for and under contracts with Uber, rather than independent contractors.
The ruling means that Uber suffered an important labor defeat in its largest European market.
Two Uber drivers — Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar — had brought the case to the employment tribunal with the assistance of the GMB Union in 2016, and the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled that Uber drivers are “workers”. After that Uber appealed three times and took the case to the Supreme Court.
“This has been a gruelling four-year legal battle for our members, but it’s ended in a historic win,” GMB National Officer Mick Rix said. “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,” Rix added.
Lawyers Leigh Day, fighting the case on behalf of the GMB Union, said tens of thousands of Uber drivers could be entitled to an average of 12,000 pounds (about 16,827.66 U.S. dollars) each in compensation.
The case of the two drivers who emerged victorious on Friday are expected to return to the employment tribunal for a ruling on the compensation they are owed.
However, Uber said the Supreme Court just ruled that a small group of drivers using the Uber app in 2016 should be classified as workers.
“Over the last few years we have made significant changes to our business and have been guided by drivers every step of the way,” said Uber in a statement.
At the time of the tribunal hearing in 2016, the number of Uber drivers operating in Britain was estimated to be around 40,000, of whom around 30,000 were operating in the London area.
Critics claimed that the ruling could have implications wider than just Uber, throughout the so-called gig economy.
Uber is available in some 440 cities across six continents, including those in China, France and the United States.