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Uber loses UK appeal finding drivers are entitled to workers' rights

[JURIST] The British Employment Appeal Tribunal [official website] on Friday rejected [press release] Uber Technologies' [corporate website] appeal [text, PDF] verifying the ruling that found Uber drivers should be classified as minimum-wage workers, entitling UK employees to minimum-wage rights, instead of self-contractors.

Judge Eady QC wrote:

The issue at the heart of the appeal can be simply put: when the drivers are working, who are they working for? The [Employment Tribunal]'s [(ET)] answer to this question was that there was a contract between [Uber London Ltd] [(ULL)] and the drivers whereby the drivers personally undertook work for ULL as part of its business of providing transportation services to passengers in the London area. On the ET's findings, there are two possible times when the drivers might thus be considered to be working: (1) when they are in their territory, have the app switched on and are able and willing to work; or (2) when they have accepted a trip. It is Uber's case that Uber drivers are working in business on their own account directly for their passengers: ULL acts as agent for those drivers in their relationship with passengers; the drivers do not work for ULL. Uber's case on appeal has focused on what it contends was the ET's inability to understand the nature of this agency relationship. [However,] the ET rejected the contention that Uber drivers work, in business on their own account, in a contractual relationship with the passenger everytime they accept a trip. [T]he ET...[found] the drivers could not grow their "businesses", they had no ability to negotiate terms with passengers (save to agree a fare reduction) and had to accept work on Uber's terms. I am satisfied the ET did not err either in its approach or in its conclusions when rejecting the contention that the contract was between driver and passenger and that ULL was simply the agent in this relationship, providing its services as such to the drivers. [T]the ET was entitled to conclude there was a contract between ULL and the drivers whereby the drivers personally undertook work for ULL as part of its business of providing transportation services to passengers in the London area. The answer to the question lies again in the requirement that drivers "should accept at least 80% of trip requests" ... or (more generally) that being "on-duty" means being "willing and able to accept trip requests". The ET found this amounted to a requirement to "accept trips."
The suit was originally brought in 2016. In October a UK employment tribunal ruled [JURIST report] that Uber can no longer treat its drivers as self-employed and must provide certain workers' rights, including minimum wage.

Currently, Uber faces other legal issue as back in September, the Transport for London [official website] announced[JURIST report] that it would not issue a private hire operator license to Uber London Limited to operate in London, declaring the company has demonstrated "a lack of corporate responsibility."

Uber plans on appealing the decision to higher courts.

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