Uber loses UK legal battle over drivers’ rights

Ride-sharing cab service Uber on Friday lost a British tribunal case brought by drivers demanding basic workers’ rights, in a decision that could have repercussions across the “gig economy”.

The Central London Employment Tribunal ruled in favour of two drivers who argued that they should receive holiday and sick pay and be paid Britain’s national minimum wage as they were effectively employees of the California-based tech company.

They were supported by the GMB union, who said the decision could have “major” implications for around 30,000 drivers across England and Wales.

“We are delighted that the employment tribunal has found in favour of our clients,” Nigel Mackay from law firm Leigh Day said after the decision.

“This judgment acknowledges the central contribution that Uber’s drivers have made to Uber’s success by confirming that its drivers are not self-employed but that they work for Uber as part of the company’s business.”

Self-employed workers in Britain are not entitled to certain rights and privileges, including paid leave and the minimum wage.

Uber, whose European headquarters is in the Netherlands, argued that British drivers should not be allowed to enforce employment rights in British courts but make their claims in Dutch courts instead.

The company’s UK regional general manager, Jo Bertram, said Uber would appeal against the ruling.

“Tens of thousands of people in London drive with Uber precisely because they want to be self-employed and their own boss,” she said in a statement.

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