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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Uber dealt another blow over drivers' rights in UK

The US ride-hailing app on Friday lost a landmark case in Britain that would give drivers basic rights such as paid holidays and the national minimum wage

Britain's Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that drivers of the ride-hailing service Uber are entitled to basic protections such as a guaranteed minimum wage and paid time off. AP / Kirsty Wigglesworth
Britain's Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that drivers of the ride-hailing service Uber are entitled to basic protections such as a guaranteed minimum wage and paid time off. AP / Kirsty Wigglesworth

In another blow to Uber, the London employment tribunal has rejected its appeal against a ruling that its drivers in Britain should be classed as workers rather than as self-employed.

Last year a tribunal ruled that drivers Yaseen Aslam and James Farrer were Uber staff and entitled to a guaranteed minimum wage and paid holiday, in line with UK employment law.

The US ride-hailing app appealed against the ruling, insisting its drivers were self-employed.

Uber said it would appeal against this latest ruling, too.

It comes as Uber continues to fight a decision by London authorities not to renew its licence, owing to public safety concerns.

The company has about 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million customers in the British capital.

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Lawyers representing the claimants welcomed Friday’s ruling. "Our clients have fought tirelessly to gain the rights that they clearly should have been afforded from the outset," Paul Jennings from law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite said in a statement.

"The ruling will have significant implications for approximately 40,000 Uber drivers and, more broadly, individuals engaged across the so-called gig economy," he added.

However, Tom Elvidge, the company's acting general manager in the UK, said the firm intends to appeal Friday’s ruling.

He says in a statement that the drivers use Uber because they value the "freedom to choose if, when and where they drive and so we intend to appeal".

"Over the last year we have made a number of changes to our app to give drivers even more control. We've also invested in things like access to illness and injury cover," he said.

Uber drivers are paid for each ride and the firm insists they are self-employed, choosing when, where and for how long they drive.

Based in San Francisco, California, Uber describes itself as a technology company that links self-employed drivers with people who need rides.