Uber drivers must be treated as workers rather than self-employed, the UK’s Supreme Court has ruled.
The decision could mean thousands of Uber drivers are entitled to minimum wage and holiday pay.
The ruling could leave the ride-hailing app facing a hefty compensation bill, and have wider consequences for the gig economy.
Uber said the ruling centred on a small number of drivers and it had since made changes to its business.
In a long-running legal battle, Uber had finally appealed to the Supreme Court after losing three earlier rounds.
Uber’s share price dipped as US trading began on Friday as investors grappled with what impact the London ruling could have on the firm’s business model.
It is being challenged by its drivers in multiple countries over whether they should be classed as workers or self-employed.
What is the so-called “gig” economy, a phrase increasingly in use, and seemingly so in connection with employment disputes?
According to one definition, it is “a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs”.
And – taking opposing partisan viewpoints – it is either a working environment that offers flexibility with regard to employment hours, or… it is a form of exploitation with very little workplace protection.
The latest attempt to bring a degree of legal clarity to the employment status of people in the gig economy has been playing out in the Court of Appeal.
A London firm, Pimlico Plumbers, on Friday lost its appeal against a previous ruling that said one of its long-serving plumbers was a worker – entitled to basic rights, including holiday pay – rather than an independent contractor.
Like other cases of a similar nature, such as those involving Uber and Deliveroo, the outcome will now be closely scrutinised for what it means regarding the workplace rights of the millions of people employed in the gig economy in the UK.