After a landmark court ruling, Uber has been accused of discouraging drivers from seeking compensation for missed holiday payments and missed minimum wage payments.
As a result of the ruling, Uber could have to pay out more than €100m to more than 10,000 drivers. According to the recent UK supreme court ruling, those drivers must be classified as workers. Prior to this, Uber argued that its 60,000 UK drivers are independent contractors and not entitled to holiday pay, the minimum wage, or a company pension.
The lawsuit began when two drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, took Uber to court on behalf of over 20 other drivers. After the ruling was made, Uber released a statement, informing drivers that a small number of drivers from 2016 can be classified as workers, but the judgment does not apply to drivers who currently earn on the app. According to Jamie Heywood, Uber’s general manager for northern and eastern Europe, the company has made significant changes in recent years, like giving drivers more control over their earnings and including free insurance in instances of sickness or injury.
Drivers are not pleased with Uber’s response to the ruling. One driver, in an interview with The Guardian, said, “after hearing about the court decision I was feeling slightly elated and thought at last things may change, but when I received the message from Uber it felt like a kick in the teeth saying it only applies to a few drivers.”
According to Nigel Mackay, one of the lawyers acting for the claimants, Uber’s statement is misleading: “There is no way they can say ‘this doesn’t apply with confidence. To suggest that the changes they talk about have any impact on the supreme court findings, the effect of that is very misleading. Uber is trying to deter people from the claim with this message.” An Uber source denied the claim that Heywood’s message was misleading or intended to deter drivers from seeking compensation.
In the event Uber does not comply with the court’s ruling, the linked cases will restart at the employment tribunal. Uber claims to be consulting about the changes it could make to its working practices. It’s expected officials will announce a response within the coming weeks.
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