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UK Supreme Court rules Uber drivers are workers, not self employed

The U.K. Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Friday that Uber drivers are “workers,” for the company, rather than self-employed, a distinction that now forces the ride-sharing company to evaluate payments and benefits to its U.K. drivers. 

The Associated Press reported that the high court’s seven judges upheld a lower court decision that Uber drivers were employees of the company, and therefore under British law are entitled to minimum wage, paid holidays and other benefits. 

Judge George Leggatt read out a summary of the ruling on a court livestream, stating, “the employment tribunal was right to find that Uber drivers are workers who therefore qualify for the rights conferred on workers by employment legislation.” 

The court in its decision said that Uber drivers can be classified as workers because the driver rating system, the company’s control over fares and its authority on developing contractual terms result in services that are “very tightly defined and controlled by Uber.”

According to the AP, the court added that Uber drivers “are in a position of subordination and dependency,” to the company, and the only method to increase their wages is to work “longer hours while constantly meeting Uber’s measures of performance.” 

Uber, which has 65,000 active drivers in the U.K., said Friday that it would respect the court’s decision. The company had argued that the two drivers who launched the case in the U.K. were independent contractors. 

CNN reported that an employment tribunal will now determine how dozens of claimants in the case will be compensated. 

Friday’s ruling comes after California’s Supreme Court earlier this month rejected a lawsuit  brought by a group of ride sharing app drivers and labor unions seeking to overturn California’s ballot measure that gives drivers for the app-based companies status as independent contractors, making them ineligible for employee benefits.

The case can still be filed in a lower court, and one of the drivers who brought the case said the group plans to keep pushing forward in their battle to overturn the controversial measure. 

Proposition 22, was approved by voters in the state in November. Companies like Uber and Lyft spent more than $200 million in a campaign backing the resolution.

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