In a world first, Uber will treat its UK drivers as “workers” after losing its case before the UK Supreme Court.
In February, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers were entitled to more protections than they enjoyed as contractors. “Worker” is a classification unique to the UK, providing more protections than a contractor, but not reaching the status of an employee. Uber has been fighting similar battles in multiple jurisdictions, but the UK case was the company’s first major loss.
As a result, Uber has agreed to pay some 70,000 UK drivers minimum wage, as well as provide vacation pay and access to a pension plan.
Writing an op-ed piece for The Evening Standard, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi outlined the company’s policy evolution:
Our thinking on this issue has evolved over time, and I will be the first to admit that we’ve struggled to identify solutions that work for Uber and for those who earn on our platform.
Following last month’s UK Supreme Court ruling, we could have continued to dispute drivers’ rights to any of these protections in court. Instead, we have decided to turn the page. Beginning today, Uber drivers in the UK will be treated as workers.
It remains to be seen if the UK case will serve as a template for other countries and jurisdictions, but Uber’s willingness to make changes certainly will undermine its arguments in future cases.