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Uber loses appeal over workers’ rights, must now treat drivers as workers

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Tom Victor
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The GMB Union has celebrated a ‘landmark’ victory for Uber drivers after the company lost an appeal in the London courts.

Uber had been appealing a ruling which had determined the drivers were entitled to basic workers’ rights, with the company having argued the individuals were instead self-employed.

The ruling is unrelated to the ride-hailing app’s ongoing battle with Transport for London (TfL) over its right to operate in the capital.

Following the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling, GMB legal director Maria Ludkin said in a statement: “GMB is delighted the EAT made the correct decision to uphold the original employment tribunal ruling. Uber must now face up to its responsibilities and give its workers the rights to which they are entitled.”

Uber had initially argued that, as it was a tech company rather than a taxi provider, the drivers connected to passengers via its app were self-employed rather than company employees deserving of the rights which come with that status.

“This outcome will be good for passengers too,” Ludkin had said after the original ruling in 2016. “Properly rewarded drivers are the same side of the coin as drivers who are properly licensed and driving well maintained and insured vehicles.”

TfL took the decision not to renew Uber’s operating licence earlier this year, with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan saying in a statement: “Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.”

Uber appealed the decision, and continues to serve the capital while waiting for the appeal – lodged in October – to be heard.

According to a report from the Evening Standard at the time, a further hearing is expected to take place in December.

Update: Uber has provided ShortList with the following statement from Uber UK’s Acting General Manager Tom Elvidge:

’Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed. The main reason why drivers use Uber is because they value the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive and so we intend to appeal.

’The tribunal relies on the assertion that drivers are required to take 80% of trips sent to them when logged into the app. As drivers who use Uber know, this has never been the case in the UK.

’Over the last year we have made a number of changes to our app to give drivers even more control. We’ve also invested in things like access to illness and injury cover and we’ll keep introducing changes to make driving with Uber even better.’

(Images: iStock)