Union hails ‘historic’ Supreme Court ruling that Uber drivers are workers

Brian Farmer, Alan Jones and Sian Harrison, PA
·2-min read

A union has hailed a “historic” Supreme Court ruling that Uber drivers are workers.

Supreme Court justices ruled on the latest round of a long-running fight between Uber operating companies and drivers on Friday.

Lawyers say the ruling means Uber drivers will be entitled to workers’ rights such as holiday pay, and will have implications for the gig economy.

Uber operating companies, who said drivers were contractors not workers, appealed to the Supreme Court after losing three earlier rounds of the fight.

But justices unanimously dismissed Uber’s appeal.

A law firm enlisted by the GMB union to represent Uber drivers says drivers will be entitled to compensation for lost pay.

A GMB spokesman said officials would now consult with Uber driver members over forthcoming compensation claims.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer, said: “This has been a gruelling four-year legal battle for our members – but it’s ended in a historic win.

“The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of three previous courts, backing up what GMB has said all along; Uber drivers are workers and entitled to breaks, holiday pay and minimum wage.

“Uber must now stop wasting time and money pursuing lost legal causes and do what’s right by the drivers who prop up its empire.”

An employment tribunal ruled in 2016 that Uber drivers were workers, and were entitled to workers’ rights.

That ruling was upheld by an employment appeal tribunal, and by Court of Appeal judges.

Lawyers representing Uber operating companies told Supreme Court justices that the employment tribunal ruling was wrong.

They said drivers did not “undertake to work” for Uber but were “independent, third party contractors”.

But lawyers representing drivers said the tribunal was entitled to conclude that drivers were working.

Justices unanimously ruled against Uber.

“It can be seen that the transportation service performed by drivers and offered to passengers through the Uber app is very tightly defined and controlled by Uber,” said one Justice, Lord Leggatt, in Friday’s ruling.

“The employment tribunal was, in my view, entitled to conclude that, by logging onto the Uber app in London, a claimant driver came within the definition of a ‘worker’ by entering into a contract.

“I think it clear that the employment tribunal was entitled to find that the claimant drivers were
‘workers’.”