Uber to appeal to the UK's Supreme Court against ruling on drivers' status

Uber intends to appeal to the UK's Supreme Court against a ruling that drivers should be classed as workers, which, according to commentators, sets the stage for a landmark legal battle with major implications for the gig economy.

Uber lost a tribunal case brought by two drivers last year and lost an appeal earlier this month when the employment appeal tribunal (EAT) upheld the original decision.

Uber is looking to the Supreme Court for granting it permission to leapfrog the court of appeal and take its case directly to the highest court in the country as soon as February.

''We have this afternoon requested permission to appeal directly to the supreme court in order that this case can be resolved sooner rather than later,'' said a spokesperson.

The case would determine whether Uber's drivers should be treated as workers, a status which will grant improved rights such as guaranteed minimum wage and holiday pay. There could also be implications for a host of gig economy firms, which operate by inviting workers to accept small jobs at short notice, often via smartphone apps.

According to commentators, the gig economy has proved to be a battleground for disputes involving firms such as takeaway company Deliveroo and courier firm CitySprint. Its emergence has also led to a full-blown government review into modern employment practices, led by Matthew Taylor, a former adviser to Tony Blair.

According to Uber, its drivers enjoy the flexibility of their work and are self-employed, which entitles them in British law to only basic entitlements such as health and safety.

After the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld by the original tribunal ruling, Uber UK's acting general manager Tom Elvidge said, "Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed, BBC reported.

"The tribunal relies on the assertion that drivers are required to take 80 per cent of trips sent to them when logged into the app. As drivers who use Uber know, this has never been the case in the UK."