FILE PHOTO: Uber’s brand is displayed on a cell phone in London, Britain, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
LONDON (Reuters) – Uber defended its business mannequin on the Court of Appeal on Tuesday within the newest stage of a long-running battle over the classification of its drivers as self-employed, a designation that entitles them to few office rights in Britain.
The Silicon Valley-based company, which may very well be valued at $120 billion in a flotation, has confronted protests, regulator crackdowns and licence losses across the world because it challenges current rivals and quickly expands. In 2016, two British drivers efficiently argued at a tribunal that Uber exerted vital management over them to offer an on-demand taxi service and that they need to be given employees’ rights, which embody the minimal wage. An employment attraction tribunal upheld that call final yr prompting Uber to go to the Court of Appeal. Unions argue that the gig economic system – the place folks typically work for numerous companies on the similar time with out fastened contracts – is exploitative, while Uber says its drivers benefit from the flexibility and on common earn rather more than the minimal wage.
It says its practices have been extensively used for many years in Britain by minicabs, non-public rent automobiles which can’t be hailed on the street like conventional black taxis.
“Many mini-cab companies operate a business model under which drivers are self-employed, own their own cars, and bear the risk of their own expenses,” the agency stated in a courtroom doc. But co-claimant within the case and chair of the drivers’ department of The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain James Farrar criticised the company.
“It’s two years since we beat Uber at the Employment Tribunal, yet minicab drivers all over the UK are still waiting for justice, while Uber exhausts endless appeals,” he stated forward of the listening to. In Britain, the self-employed are entitled to solely primary protections akin to well being and security however employees obtain the minimal wage, paid holidays and relaxation breaks. Uber has launched a number of advantages for drivers in latest months.
The U.S. agency is embroiled in authorized motion across the world the place courts have taken differing approaches to the problem of office rights.
The matter has risen up the political agenda in lots of international locations as extra folks work for firms with out fastened hours or a assured earnings.
A march backed by a number of commerce unions and involving cleaners, receptionists and safety officers was held in central London final Tuesday.
The government launched a assessment into working practices final yr however has but to reply after a session closed in the summertime. A reply is due in “due course,” in response to a business ministry spokeswoman.
Editing by Stephen Addison