Union bosses hail Supreme Court Uber worker ruling and want law reform

Supreme Court judges on Friday ruled against Uber operating companies after drivers were embroiled in a long legal fight for rights.

Union bosses hail Supreme Court Uber worker ruling and want law reform

Union bosses have hailed a Supreme Court ruling which defines Uber drivers as workers and want employment law reform.

A Uber driver at the centre of the legal battle said the decision, which will give drivers’ workers’ rights, would “fundamentally reorder” the gig economy.

Labour said the Supreme Court justices had sent a landmark message telling companies to not undercut workers’ rights.

Supreme Court judges on Friday ruled on the latest round of a long-running fight between drivers and Uber operating companies.

Drivers said they were workers whereas Uber operating companies said drivers were contractors, not workers.

Uber operating companies appealed to the Supreme Court after losing three earlier rounds of the fight.

Employment tribunals and Court of Appeal judges had ruled against Uber – and Supreme Court judges unanimously dismissed Uber’s appeal.

Lawyers say the ruling means Uber drivers will be entitled to workers’ rights such as holiday pay and compensation for lost pay.

Uber drivers Yaseen Aslam (left) and James Farrar (Ian West/PA)
Uber drivers Yaseen Aslam (left) and James Farrar (Ian West/PA)

Scottish TUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “This ruling has enormous implications for employment law which go beyond Uber to the wider gig economy.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the Government should now step up to the plate, and added: “Ministers must use the much-delayed employment bill to reform the law around worker status.

“Everyone should qualify for employment rights unless an employer can prove they are genuinely self-employed.”

London Uber drivers Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar had originally brought claims and were “test claimants” in the Supreme Court fight.

“This ruling will fundamentally reorder the gig economy and bring an end to rife exploitation of workers by means of algorithmic and contract trickery,” said Mr Farrar.

“Uber drivers are cruelly sold a false dream of endless flexibility and entrepreneurial freedom.”

Mr Aslam added: “I hope in future the Government will choose to carry out its duty to enforce the law and protect the most vulnerable from exploitation.”

Shadow employment rights and protections secretary Andy McDonald said the ruling was “hugely important” and had “significant implications” for the gig economy.

“Increasing numbers of workers are engaged on exploitative zero hours and insecure contracts,” he said.

“The Supreme Court has sent a very clear message that companies should not game the system by undercutting the rights of their employees.”

The logo of Uber on a car door (Laura Dale/AP)
(Laura Dale/AP)

Lawyers at Leigh Day said an employment tribunal would now decide how much compensation drivers are entitled to.

A Leigh Day spokeswoman said the firm was representing more than 2,000 Uber drivers and estimated that tens of thousands of Uber drivers could be affected.

She said lawyers thought drivers could get an average of £12,000 each in compensation.

A GMB spokesman said officials would now consult with Uber driver members over forthcoming compensation claims.

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