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Uber judgment: ‘Sea-change’ for gig economy | News

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Lawyers have predicted a ‘significant class action’ against Uber following a decision by the Supreme Court that its drivers should be classed as workers with access to the minimum wage and paid holidays.

In a judgment handed down this morning, six justices unanimously dismissed Uber’s appeal against a 2018 Court of Appeal ruling. The company argued that the drivers are self-employed independent contractors. The Supreme Court rejected this argument, ruling that Uber London contracts with passengers and engages drivers to carry out bookings for it.

Bates Wells LLP, which represented some of the drivers, said the judgment will have an ‘enormous impact’ on an estimated 45,000 Uber drivers in London and on the rights of gig economy workers more generally.

‘The Supreme Court held that Uber drivers are “workers”. This is still a form of self-employment but will guarantee Uber drivers’ basic protections including the national minimum wage, holiday pay, protection against discrimination and will require Uber to adhere to more extensive health & safety obligations,’ the firm said.

Paul Jennings, partner at Bates Wells said: ‘The ruling strikes at the heart of Uber’s business model. We anticipate there will be a significant class action against Uber. As a business, it will need to reflect very carefully on the implications of the judgement.’

In the immediate term, the practical implications of the decision – which relates to 35 Uber drivers – have yet to be determined.

Will Winch, an employment lawyer at Mishcon de Reya, said the ruling confirmed that the starting point when deciding whether someone is a  ‘worker’ is not the contract but the purpose of the relevant employment legislation.

‘The court noted that workers are often in a weaker bargaining position, and warned against attempts to contract out of the statutory protections that exist to protect vulnerable individuals. This is a clear signal that workers – particularly in the gig economy – will be protected by the courts, irrespective of the nature of their contractual arrangements,’ Winch said. 

Yvonne Gallagher, employment partner at Harbottle & Lewis, added that the outcome ‘may embolden trade unions to push for full employee status in future which would bring with it wider obligations the most significant of which would be an obligation to pay employers social security contributions on payments made to employees’.

Trade union GMB described today’s judgment as a ‘historic win’.

The case will now return to the employment tribunal which will decide how much compensation drivers are entitled to. National firm Leigh Day, which represented some of the drivers, claims Uber drivers could be entitled to an average of £12,000 each in compensation.

Uber was represented by international firm DLA Piper. 

 

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How the Gig Economy Helps American Workers, Explained

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Sure, you know that being an Uber driver is great for someone who wants to make their own hours. But did you know that many Americans are choosing freelance work because they need flexibility because of family or other responsibilities?

Did you know that small businesses rely on independent contractors? Or that Americans who were once discouraged because they couldn’t make a job work with their lifestyle are now able to work?

But unfortunately, the gig economy is under attack by leftists. In California, a new law has made many such flexible jobs illegal.

In this “Policy Lab” episode, posted above, we have the facts on the gig economy. Check it out—and if you’re interested in watching more “Policy Lab” episodes, you can view them here.



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Gig economy musn’t push labor back into 19th century – Deutsche Welle

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Gig economy firms ordered to give 60,000 riders contracts in landmark Italian ruling

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FOUR major gig economy firms in Milan have been ordered to employ 60,000 delivery riders and pay €733 million (£635m) in fines in a huge victory for workers’ rights.

The decision follows last Friday’s landmark Uber ruling in the British Supreme Court that found drivers for the company were workers and not self-employed.

Authorities in Italy’s largest city gave Deliveroo, UberEats, JustEat and Foodhino-Glovo 90 days to comply with their order.

Deputy Prosecutor Tiziana Siciliano said: “The vast majority of these riders are employed with occasional self-employment contracts … but it emerged without a shadow of a doubt that they are fully included in the organisation of the company.”

Ms Siciliano also said an IT platform that managed the workers, ranking them according to performance, forced them to labour like slaves without basic employment rights.

“This system actually forces the rider to accept all orders in order not to be demoted in the ranking and get less work,” she said. “This is the reason why it is impossible to take holidays or sick leave.”

Prosecutor Francesco Greco declared that the ruling meant “it is no longer the time to say that they are slaves. It’s time to say that they are citizens.”

The order also places obligations to provide safe bicycles, accident compensation and training to the riders.

 JustEat said it was launching an internal investigation into its workers’ safety and said it had made changes to its business model to “introduce a safer, more controlled and direct system with our workers — as employees.”
 
 But UberEats, Deliveroo Italy and Foodhino-Glovo said they did not agree with the order.
 
“The online food delivery is an industry that operates in full compliance with the rules and is able to guarantee an essential service,” they said.

A worldwide boom in food delivery because of lockdowns imposed by coronavirus has put the spotlight on the plight of couriers worldwide who often lack proper employment rights.

The European Commission launched a public consultation on the rights of gig economy workers on Wednesday. The standing committee of China’s National People’s Congress also began consideration of a draft law strengthening legal protections for workers in “flexible” employment last month following protests over the mistreatment of gig economy workers.

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