UK tribunal rules Uber drivers are workers, not contractors

A tribunal in the UK has ruled that Uber drivers are workers rather than self-employed contractors.

Commentators have hailed the ruling as a landmark win for workers' rights in the so-called gig economy where platform giants had sought to minimise costs by treating the large numbers of people needed to operate their services as self-employed.

Under the ruling, Uber drivers in the UK would be entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks as also the National Minimum Wage. Uber said it would appeal the ruling.

In a statement, Jo Bertram, regional general manager of Uber in the UK, said, ''Tens of thousands of people in London drive with Uber precisely because they want to be self-employed and their own boss. The overwhelming majority of drivers who use the Uber app want to keep the freedom and flexibility of being able to drive when and where they want. While the decision of this preliminary hearing only affects two people we will be appealing it.''

The ruling, they say could also impact other gig economy startups operating in the UK, although the tribunal only considered the terms applied by Uber.

The two drivers who brought the case contended that the rapidly expanding app, which allowed users to book and pay for a taxi by smartphone, was acting unlawfully by treating them as self-employed and not providing certain rights.

Unions described the ruling as a ''monumental'' verdict.

The decision could also impact people who worked for firms such as meal delivery services like Deliveroo, in the ''gig economy'' where individualed work for multiple employers day-to-day without having a fixed contract.

''This is a monumental victory that will have a hugely positive impact on drivers and for thousands more in other industries where bogus self-employment is rife,'' said Maria Ludkin, legal director at the GMB union which brought the case.