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December 5, 2017

UK Supreme Court rejects Uber’s employee rights appeal request

The UK Supreme Court rejects Uber's request appeal as the company gets yet another setback.

By April Slattery

Despite Uber’s efforts to put its troubles to one side, yet another setback has hit the ride-hailing firm as the UK Supreme Court has rejected its appeal concerning workers’ rights.

Two weeks ago the ride-hailing firm applied to the UK’s highest court to overturn the decision made by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), which ruled that Uber drivers should be classed as workers and not self-employed.

According to the drivers’ union, Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, this application has now been rejected by the UK’s highest court.

Losing its application to the Supreme Court means the case will now have to be heard by the Court of Appeal, which the company was trying to avoid by going directly to the highest court in a bid to quicken the appeal process.

The Court of Appeal will now hear the case after Supreme Court rejects appeal bid.

Uber argued against the initial ruling that its drivers should not be classed as self-employed because they are not obliged to any conditions that would give them this status and the perks that come with it, such as minimum wage.

However, Uber does require drivers to take on at least 80% of the jobs they get offered in order to keep their driver status, which in itself is an indirect condition tying drivers to the company.

The Court of Appeal will be the third court to hear the case after it was brought to the EAT by two former drivers last year.

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The two drivers successfully brought the case to court after arguing they were working for Uber under ‘contract’ conditions, because as soon as they logged onto the app they were unable to take jobs from any other operators, leaving them under the control of Uber to pick up hailers on request.

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Uber denied this was the case and that drivers were not obliged to adhere to any conditions that would allow drivers workers’ rights, such as holiday pay and minimum wage. Additionally the company claims by classing them as self-employed would lead to loss of flexibility, which drivers like.

The application rejection takes away the shine from the progress Uber seemingly made yesterday as they joined the UITP, in a bid to boost mobility across the cities they operate in as well as rebuild relationships with local authorities. However, it seems somewhat unlikely to do the latter following the latest rejection.

Now Uber must wait for the Court of Appeal to hear the case and until then the company is again left wondering its future on the roads.

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