Uber will defend its business model at Britain's Supreme Court in a battle over rights in the workplace that could have ramifications for millions of Britons earning a living in the gig economy. File picture: Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters
Uber will defend its business model at Britain's Supreme Court in a battle over rights in the workplace that could have ramifications for millions of Britons earning a living in the gig economy. File picture: Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters

Uber defends business model at UK's Supreme Court

By Costas Pitas Time of article published Jul 21, 2020

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London - Uber will defend its

business model on Tuesday at Britain's Supreme Court in a battle

over rights in the workplace that could have ramifications for

millions of Britons earning a living in the gig economy.

In a case brought by two then Uber drivers in London, an

employment tribunal ruled in 2016 that they were entitled to

workers' rights such as the minimum wage, paid holidays and rest

breaks.

As things stand, Uber drivers are treated as self-employed,

meaning they are legally entitled only to minimal protections.

Uber says its practices have been used for decades by

private hire vehicles known as minicabs, which cannot be hailed

in the street like traditional taxis, and that drivers earn on

average more than the minimum wage alongside other benefits.

The Silicon Valley-based company has lost two appeals in the

case, prompting it to seek a hearing at the Supreme Court which

will consider the matter on Tuesday and Wednesday.

A judgement is not expected until at least October. If Uber

loses, the firm is unlikely to be able to appeal again and a

further tribunal hearing may be needed to decide how the ruling

is applied in practice.

Other firms in the gig economy use a similar business model,

where people work for one or more companies without fixed

contracts.

Uber faces similar cases elsewhere.

In June, Canada’s top court ruled in favour of a driver in a

case that paves the way for a class action suit calling for the

company to recognise drivers there as company employees.

Separately, in London, the company is trying to win back its

licence after the city's transport regulator stripped it of its

right to operate in November for the second time in just over

two years. Its appeal will be heard in September. 

Reuters

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