UK top court rules Uber drivers entitled to workers’ rights

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Britain’s top court on Friday ruled that ride-hailing giant Uber’s drivers are entitled to workers’ rights, in a judgement with huge implications for the “gig economy”.

The Supreme Court ruling that the drivers were employees followed a years-long legal battle with the Silicon Valley taxi and delivery company.

“This has been a grueling four-year legal battle for our members — but it’s ended in a historic win,” said Mick Rix, from the GMB trade union.

“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,” he added.

Uber said it respected the court ruling.

Lower courts ruled in 2016, 2017 and 2018 in favour of a group of 20 Uber drivers who argue they were entitled to employee status given the length of time they had been working through the Uber app, and the way that the company oversaw their work.

Uber insisted that the drivers were self-employed since they choose their own hours and place of work, and often find passengers through rival apps.

The ruling could equally affect other online platforms behind the so-called gig economy in Britain — people doing short-term work without formal contracts, or working without guaranteed hours.

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Couriers for the Deliveroo food app are currently fighting in the Court of Appeal in London for the right to collective bargaining.

Uber claimed that it has changed the way it works since the legal action began.

Drivers can now choose when and where they drive and can also access free health insurance as well as compensation for parental leave, it said.

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