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13 November 2017, 02:16 | Myrtle Vega
Uber ordered to treat drivers as employees with full rights after losing appeal in landmark case
Taxi firm Uber has lost an appeal against a ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers rather than self-employed.
In 2016, a tribunal ruled that drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam were "Uber staff" and entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the minimum wage.
Tom Elvidge, Uber UK's acting general manager, said: "The main reason why drivers use Uber is because they value the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive, and so we intend to appeal".
Uber had claimed that 80% of its drivers should indeed be classified as "self-employed".
However, union GMB, which backed the case, said: "Uber must now face up to its responsibilities and give its workers the rights to which they are entitled". The company this year has faced a wave of challenges for its brash business style and aggressive expansion, including allegations it does not properly vet its drivers and that it uses software to deceive authorities in areas where Uber's introduction was resisted. It is significant because "workers" under the law are entitled to rights like sick pay and the minimum wage, whereas the self-employed are not.
Uber lost its challenge at the EAT, but immediately announced it will appeal, saying nearly all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before its app existed.
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Paul Jennings, a partner at law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite, which represented the drivers in the EAT, said: "We are delighted with today's judgment, which is ethically and legally the right outcome".
It is highly likely that Uber will now appeal against the EAT decision. Uber is planning to appeal the decision, meaning that the case could end up being dragged through the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Given the number of companies operating a similar business model to Uber, leap-frogging the Court of Appeal appears to be a distinct possibility.
The company has faced a fraught few months in London, its biggest market outside the United States, with over 40,000 minicab drivers and 3.5 million passengers. "The Uber drivers' union GMB deserve huge credit for their work on this case". The practice is found in other "gig economy" companies, like TaskRabbit, where people work on demand through a digital marketplace.
'Sham self-employment exploits people and scams the taxman'.
Uber treats its drivers like independent contractors.
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