Uber Drivers Are Workers, Says UK’s Highest Court

Uber drivers in the UK are entitled to to holiday pay, minimum wage and protection against discrimination, the Supreme Court said in a landmark ruling for gig economy workers.
Uber Drivers Are Workers, Says UK’s Highest Court
Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar, who brought the case against Uber. Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images and Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Uber drivers should be classed as workers rather than self-employed, the UK’s Supreme Court has ruled.

As a result of the decision, approximately 60,000 Uber drivers across the UK will win the right to minimum wage, holiday pay and protection from discrimination, marking a drastic change in the way gig economy workers are treated. 

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favour of two drivers who originally bought the case, part of the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU).

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Yaseen Aslam, co-lead claimant and ADCU President said, “I am overjoyed and greatly relieved by this decision which will bring relief to so many workers in the gig economy who so desperately need it. During the six years of these proceedings, we have watched the government commission and then shelve a review of the gig economy yet do nothing to help us. I hope in future the government will choose to carry out its duty to enforce the law and protect the most vulnerable from exploitation.”

Uber has previously appealed similar rulings in other courts three times, after an employment tribunal ruled in 2016 that Aslam and James Farrar, the other co-lead claimant, were entitled to basic workers’ rights. Currently, drivers are treated as self-employed, denying them many of the basic worker rights.

Farrar, ADCU General Secretary said, “This ruling will fundamentally re-order the gig economy and bring an end to rife exploitation of workers by means of algorithmic and contract trickery. Uber drivers are cruelly sold a false dream of endless flexibility and entrepreneurial freedom. The reality has been illegally low pay, dangerously long hours and intense digital surveillance.”

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said: "We respect the Court's decision which focussed on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016. Since then we have made some significant changes to our business, guided by drivers every step of the way. These include giving even more control over how they earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of sickness or injury.

“We are committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver across the UK to understand the changes they want to see.”