Drivers of the Uber taxi service can no longer be treated as self-employed in the United Kingdom (UK). That is what the British High Court, the UK’s highest court, ruled on Friday. They are now seen as a “worker”, a British work relationship that roughly sits somewhere between an employee and a self-employed person.
The ruling could award about sixty thousand British Uber drivers for things like vacations and minimum wages. Hence the taxi platform can expect much higher fares. Moreover, the judgment may have consequences for the economy of the additional platform, as many platform companies operate in the same manner.
The UK case against Uber is not unique: the French Court of Cassation also ruled in 2019 that drivers of the platform should be seen as employees and not self-employed. At the time, the court concluded that there was a “relationship of dependency” between the director and the company at Uber. The court concluded at the time that “the manager does not offer his services as a self-employed person, but as an employee.”
At the end of last year, the Netherlands’ largest trade union, FNV, also filed in court to put an end to Uber’s fake freelance creations. “Uber acts like an employer in everything,” said Amrit Siogobind, the FNV driver at the time. “It determines which drivers and vehicles are allowed to enter the platform, their driving rate, and monitors the performance of drivers.”
Correction: In an earlier version of the article we talked about employees. This was incorrect: in the UK the employment relationship is called “the worker”, which does not mean the same meaning as the employee in Dutch. So this has been modified.