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Uber loses court appeal against drivers' rights
13 November 2017, 02:16 | Darnell Patrick
The Uber app open at a taxi rank
The law firm working on the case against Uber called it "a landmark decision" that will have "significant implications for approximately 40,000 Uber drivers and, more broadly, individuals engaged across the so-called 'gig economy'".
The company, which argues that its drivers are self-employed and that it is a mere intermediary between drivers and passengers, has around 50,000 drivers in the United Kingdom but its model has been criticised in some quarters.
The employment tribunal in Aslam and others v Uber BV and others held that the drivers are entitled, among other things, to be paid the national minimum wage and receive paid annual leave. "Not just for us, but for nearly every worker in the United Kingdom".
Uber drivers, whose contracts of employment are created to make them appear self-employed, successfully argued in an employment tribunal that they are in fact workers.
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"The [ruling] relies on the assertion that drivers are required to take 80 percent of trips sent to them when logged into the app". But many others depend on the app to make a living. The company this year has faced a wave of challenges for its brash business style and aggressive expansion, including allegations it does not properly vet its drivers and that it uses software to deceive authorities in areas where Uber's introduction was resisted.
"Over the a year ago we have made a number of changes to our app to give drivers even more control".
However, union GMB, which backed the case, said: "Uber must now face up to its responsibilities and give its workers the rights to which they are entitled".
'GMB urges the company not to waste everyone's time and money dragging their lost cause to the Supreme Court'.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Uber should throw in the towel and accept today's judgment. No company, however big or well-connected, is above the law". "The impact of this ruling could affect thousands of drivers, and not just drivers but millions of workers across the U.K". "This ruling has arguably put the proverbial nail in the coffin of those businesses who seek to avoid the ramifications of worker status by trying to create unrealistic "self-employed" arrangements with those who work for them". The government needs to seriously consider introducing a statutory definition of self-employment. This business model reduces costs for the company and means employees don't need formal contracts.
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