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UK Tribunal Rules Uber Drivers Are Employees, Not Contractors

Uber was dealt a blow in the U.K. when an employment tribunal ruled Uber drivers are workers instead of self-employed contractors.

According to a report, the ruling means workers of the gig economy, at least in the case of Uber, get holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the national minimum wage. Uber, noted the report, plans to appeal the ruling.

“Tens of thousands of people in London drive with Uber precisely because they want to be self-employed and their own boss,” said Jo Bertram, regional general manager of Uber in the U.K., in a statement to TechCrunch. “The overwhelming majority of drivers who use the Uber app want to keep the freedom and flexibility of being able to drive when and where they want. While the decision of this preliminary hearing only affects two people, we will be appealing it.”

The report noted the ruling could also impact other gig economy companies that are operating in the U.K. The tribunal only considered the claims with two Uber drivers.

“We have reached the conclusion that any driver who (a) has the app switched on, (b) is within the territory in which he is authorized to work and (c) is able and willing to accept assignments, is, for so long as those conditions are satisfied, working for Uber under a ‘worker’ contract and a contract within each of the extended definitions,” the tribunal wrote. The tribunal went on to say it was taken aback by the “remarkable lengths” Uber went through to try to get agreement for its definition of its company and the legal relationships between the various parties involved. The tribunal described Uber’s efforts as “resorting in its documentations to fictions, twisted language and even brand new terminology” to pursue its arguments. “It is, in our opinion, unreal to deny that Uber is in the business as a supplier of transportation services,” it added. “Simple common sense argues to the contrary.”

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