After years of aggressively fighting any efforts to force it to recognize its drivers as employees, on Tuesday Uber performed a U-turn on the streets of Britain and recognized all of its drivers as working for the company rather than serving as freelancers.
The change is the result of a court ruling last month that entitled workers to seek more pay and benefits but resisted classifying them as employees. That decision by the UK’s Supreme Court, making it definitive, was unanimous, and actively rejected Uber’s argument that it was just a technology platform that connected suppliers with customers. The court was having none of that, and decided that since Uber set the prices, connected drivers and passengers, and decided which route the drivers should follow, it was more employer than platform.
The ride-hailing app maker initially downplayed the legal loss, and argued the decision only directly benefited the handful of drivers in that specific case. However, experts pointed out that every other Uber driver in the UK could cite the ruling at a tribunal to demand what was owed to them, and reality has since dawned on Uber.
As such, Uber has complied with the court’s wishes, and said that its 70,000 UK drivers will henceforth be “workers” entitled to a minimum wage – £8.72 ($12.11) an hour – plus vacation pay, and a pension plan. The details are laid out in this filing [PDF] to America’s financial watchdog.