Drivers win landmark case against Uber over workers' rights

UK tribunal rules drivers are entitled to national minimum wage and holiday pay

Drivers win landmark case against Uber over workers' rights

File photo: PA Images

Two drivers have won a landmark tribunal case against Uber over workers' rights.

The drivers claimed that the private hire firm acted unlawfully by denying them sick pay, a guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay and breaks. 

The London Central Employment Tribunal ruled in their favour, a decision which could affect thousands of other people who work for companies with similar business models.

Nigel Mackay, who represented the drivers, described the ruling as "a groundbreaking decision".

Uber said it would appeal the judgement.

The tribunal centred on whether drivers with Uber are employees.

Uber insists its 40,000 drivers are "partners" and self-employed, meaning they are not entitled to holiday pay and other benefits.

But drivers argue they are actual employees of the organisation, rather than independent operators running their own businesses.

Mr Mackay claimed Uber drivers work very long hours "just to earn enough to cover their basic living costs". 

He said: "(The ruling) will impact not just on the thousands of Uber drivers working in this country, but on all workers in the so-called gig economy whose employers wrongly classify them as self-employed and deny them the rights to which they are entitled."

The so-called gig economy has boomed in the UK. 

According to official figures, the number of people registered as self-employed rose to 4.8 million in August this year - accounting for 15% of the UK population.

Uber has two million users in London alone and they make around one million trips a week.

On the ruling, the firm's UK general manager Jo Bertram said: "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."