Uber lost an appeal against an employment rights ruling by the EAT (Employment Appeal Tribunal). It was termed as a ‘landmark victory’ victory for workers’ rights in gig economy, by the GMB Union.
Last year, two drivers Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar won a case on employment tribunal. The argument was regarding their worker-rights on minimum wage, paid leave, and sick pay prerogatives.
This ruling was challenged by Uber at the EAT, with the counterpoint that this could prevent drivers from ‘personal flexibility they value’.
GMB’s legal director, Maria Ludkin, said that “This landmark decision is a yet more vindication of GMB’s campaign to ensure drivers are given the rights they are entitled to and that the public, drivers, and passengers are kept safe.”
She echoed GMB’s delight in EAT’s decision and pinpointed that Uber should take responsibilities as per entitlements of the workers. “GMB urges the company not to waste everyone’s time and money dragging their lost cause to the Supreme Court.” – she stated.
The TUC (Trades Union Congress) made its voice heard on the issue as well, through its general secretary Frances O’Grady, who said, “Uber should throw in the towel and accept today’s judgment. No company, however big or well-connected, is above the law.”
He further noted that this ruling will alert the employers in today’s gig economy. He was quoted,“Unions will expose nasty schemes that try and cheat workers out of the minimum wage and holiday pay. Sham self-employment exploits people and scams the taxman.”
As for the voice of Uber, Tom Elvidge, the company’s acting general manager in the UK reminded us that “Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed.”
He added that Uber provides freedom to the drivers, although it wasn’t clear how this fact justifies the appeal of Uber.
Additionally, Elvidge said on the ruling that the tribunal gave the verdict based on the fact that drivers are supposed to take at least 80% of the sent trips on the Uber app.
His final statements read, “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.”