EXPLAINER: How Uber UK case could foreshadow gig work revamp
LONDON (AP) — Ride hailing giant Uber says it's giving U.K. drivers benefits like minimum wage and pensions, after losing a yearslong court battle to prevent them from being classified as “workers." It's an early sign of what companies like Uber face as authorities get to grips with regulating the app-based gig economy.
Starting right away, Uber's more than 70,000 U.K. drivers will get the minimum wage, equivalent to about $12 an hour for people aged 25 and up, plus pension payments and holiday pay. The company made the changes after the U.K. Supreme Court rejected its appeal against an employment tribunal ruling that drivers should be considered workers, not independent contractors as Uber insisted. That doesn't mean they're considered full-time staff employees, but under U.K. employment law, they fall into a middle category of “workers” who have more casual work terms but are also entitled to benefits and protections.
IS IT GOOD FOR DRIVERS?
Yes and no. San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc. says a driver's minimum wage will be calculated based on the time they accept a trip through the app. The drivers union behind the legal case said it's a step in the right direction but not good enough because drivers should be paid for time spent waiting for rides after logging on to the app, as the court ruled, otherwise they'll be shortchanged by up to 50%.
“If you go to work for Starbucks and no customers come into the shop, should you still be paid? Of course you should," said James Farrar, one of two former Uber drivers who filed the initial claim. “Uber simply has to do this, this is not difficult to understand."
But it may not be so simple. The company has argued that drivers could be logged in to the app while they're sitting at home, and...