Two ex-Uber drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam took Uber to Court five years ago over matters regarding basic workers’ rights. The two pursued the legal battle and won against the rideshare company on February 26.
Aslam and Farrar were part of a small group of drivers who brought the case against Uber in 2015. As president and general secretary of the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADVU), respectively, they claimed Uber was breaking UK employment law by failing to offer basic rights to workers, like holiday pay and minimum wage. They won the lawsuit.
Initially, Uber disputed the claim, saying it acted like other traditional rideshare companies and counted its drivers as self-employed contractors. At that time, that meant that drivers were offered minimal protections. Workers did not have access to sick pay, and Uber avoided paying the minimum wage. In 2017, Uber appealed the original ruling and lost.
When its first appeal fell through, Uber appealed the case in the UK’s Supreme Court. The process dragged into February 2021. Once again, the company lost. According to Inside, the outcome could threaten Uber’s business model in the UK if it’s forced to pay thousands of drivers who may bring cases.
The dispute will not go back to an employment tribunal, which will decide how much money the 25 drivers who brought the case forward five years ago will get. Aslam believes he’s entitled to €10,000 to €12,000.
In an interview with Insider, Aslam said, “I was delighted. It means a lot. I didn’t just do it for myself, I did it for the workers and drivers. I’m just a driver who spoke up for injustice. I’m not anti-Uber and I’m not there to shut Uber down. But the law is there for a reason.”
Farrar, however, sees more turmoil to come: “The devil is in the details now. Uber is trying to spin a line to drivers that this ruling only applies to the original claimants and not to all drivers. Not only is it untrue, but it’s demonstrably contrary to the spirit of the ruling.”
Uber did not respond to Insider’s request for comment. The company, however, did release a press release after the ruling: “We respect the court’s decision which focused on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016. Since then, we have made some significant changes to our business, guided by drivers every step of the way. These include giving even more control over how they earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of sickness or injury. We are committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver across the UK to understand the changes they want to see.”