London: Uber said today it gives its UK drivers worker status, with benefits including a minimum wage – a first in the world for the US taxi giant.
Weeks after a Supreme Court ruling could change Britain’s broader “temporary work economy” of 5.5 million people, Uber said its drivers would also receive vacation pay and a pension.
It is a colossal change in the business model of a company that had argued in Britain’s High Court that its drivers were self-employed.
The taxi app said in a statement that as of tomorrow, “more than 70,000 drivers in the UK will be treated as workers, and earn at least the national living wage when driving with Uber.”
“This is a floor, not a roof, with drivers earning more.”
Last month, the court ruled the right of Uber drivers to enjoy workers’ rights.
The decision culminated in a drawn-out legal battle between UK drivers and Silicon Valley taxi and delivery company.
The minimum hourly wage in the UK will increase slightly from April to £ 8.91.
On average, drivers earn £ 17 an hour in London and £ 14 in the rest of the UK, according to Uber.
Uber said its work on workers’ rights “means drivers will earn with more safety, which helps them plan for their futures while maintaining the flexibility that is an integral part of the private employment industry.”
“Uber has consulted thousands of drivers over the past several weeks who have said they want these additional benefits but without any loss of flexibility,” she added.
Uber’s higher costs come as it faces low driver bookings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, despite strong demand for Uber Eats’ food delivery service during national lockdowns.
Meanwhile, Uber is asking companies in the sector to form a mutual fund that would allow drivers who work in various applications to gain access to protection and benefits such as paid vacation.
It comes as Deliveroo food app messengers await the London Court of Appeals ruling for the right to collective bargaining.
In a precedent for the European Union, the Spanish government earlier this month announced a deal that would recognize passengers working for food delivery companies like Deliveroo and Uber Eats as salaried employees after complaints about their working conditions.
In Italy, prosecutors told Uber Eats and other food delivery platforms that their couriers were employees, not independent workers, and fined them 733 million euros for violating work safety rules.
The United Nations has called for urgent international regulations to ensure fair conditions for paid workers via digital platforms such as food delivery apps.