LONDON: Uber drivers in Britain have been re-classified as “workers” and will now benefit from a paid holiday, a minimum wage and private pensions following a UK Supreme Court ruling last month.
From Wednesday, Uber drivers in the UK will be treated as workers, earning at least the minimum wage when driving with Uber. Eligible drivers will automatically be enrolled into a private pension plan with contributions from Uber alongside driver contributions and they will also be paid for holiday time.
An Uber spokesperson told TOI the changes would only apply to the more than 70,000 drivers in the UK and would not apply to India or any other country since a “worker” is a classification that is unique under UK employment law.
“Before Uber drivers in Britain were classified as self-employed, and now they have been reclassified as workers but not as employees,” the spokesperson said.
Under UK law workers are not employees but are entitled to the minimum wage, currently an hourly rate of £8.72 (Rs 878) for people aged 25 and above, as well as holiday pay and a pension.
Uber will not become their employer and will not be able to dictate drivers’ hours. Drivers will retain the flexibility to work when and where they want, as well as to work for multiple apps and firms.
Agency workers in the UK are classified in this manner. Uber said it had consulted thousands of drivers over the last several weeks and that they said they wanted these additional benefits but without any loss of flexibility.
Most Uber drivers earn far more than the UK minimum wage with those in London earning on average £17 (Rs 1,700) per hour and those in the rest of the UK earning on average £14 (Rs 1,400) per hour.
Free insurance to cover sickness, injury and maternity and paternity payments have been in place for all drivers since 2018.
The Supreme Court judgment handed down on 19 February found that Uber drivers worked under worker’s contracts.
Uber argued that it acted solely as a technology provider and booking agent and the contract was between the driver and the passenger. But the Supreme Court found that drivers are in a position of subordination and dependency to Uber and Uber exercises significant control over the way in which drivers deliver their services.