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Uber Loses UK Appeal in Worker Classification Case
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Summary: Uber UK appears to be losing its battle to keep its drivers classified as independent contractors. 

This week, a UK tribunal set Uber back when it ruled that its drivers could be classified as workers and not independent contractors. The multi-billion dollar ride-share company lost its appeal against a decision from last year. According to Tech Crunch, “Uber’s appeal against the ruling was heard in September. But the Employment Appeal Tribunal has now upheld the original verdict — denying a first appeal.”


The original ruling only applies to the people who brought on the case, but what could hurt Uber is that it sets a precedent for other drivers.

Uber’s business model is dependent on its drivers remaining independent contractors. Drivers provide their own cars and insurance, and they set their own hours. However, Uber would have nothing if these drivers did not exist, but the company said that it would be too costly to give them employee benefits such as insurance or paid time off.

According to Tech Crunch, Uber UK has almost 50,000 drivers and the cost of changing their employment status to worker and not independent contractor could cost them tens of millions of pounds.

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“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,” a spokesman for Uber said. “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.”

In their appeal, Uber said that they acted as agent’s for drivers, finding them clients, but the UK tribunal was not buying that explanation. Although this appeal failed, Uber can next file with the UK Court of Appeal and the UK Supreme Court, which means this case is likely not over. However, a UK attorney predicts that if Uber were to continue fighting, they wouldn’t win.

“If the case proceeds to the Supreme Court, it will be keenly fought by excellent lawyers but the signs suggest that Uber will continue to be driving uphill,” Sean Nesbitt, partner in international law firm Taylor Wessing LLP, said to Tech Crunch. 

A plaintiff in the case, Yaseem Aslam, said that he was happy with the judge’s ruling.

“I am glad that the judge today confirmed what I and thousands of drivers have known all along: that Uber is not only exploiting drivers, but also acting unlawfully. We will carry on fighting until this exploitation stops and workers’ rights are respected,” Aslam said.

What do you think of Uber’s business model? Let us know in the comments below.


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