Massive setback for Uber; UK Supreme Court says drivers are Uber workers not self-employed
The UK Supreme Court verdict came after six years of legal tussle between Uber and two of its drivers named Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar.
Ride-hailing giant Uber suffered a massive setback in the United Kingdom when the country's Supreme Court ruled that drivers who were associated with the company were workers, not independent contractors.
Uber had contended that the drivers were self-employed considering that they choose their own working hours and location of work. The Silicon Valley-based firm also claimed that the drivers often took in passengers using rival applications.
How ever, the British top court ruled that when a ride was booked through Uber's application, the company sets the fare and drivers are not permitted to charge over and above the fare sanctioned by it. Therefore, it is Uber that dictates how much the driver is getting paid and how much work they do, the top court verdict said.
The judgment also says that Uber constrains its drivers' choice on whether to accept requests for rides and that it exercises a significant degree of control over how the company's drivers deliver their services.
The UK Supreme Court verdict came after five years of legal tussle between Uber and two of its drivers named Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar.
Shortly after the verdict was delivered, Aslam said that the ruling would come as a shot in the arm for gig economy workers like him.
Farar said that unlike the popular belief that ride-hailing giants were treating their drivers as mini entrepreneurs, the reality is that the latter have been offered low pay and subjected to long working hours and intense GPS surveillance.
The UK top court judgment could majorly impact ride-hailing companies like Uber, Lyft and Ola (in India).
In India, Ola and Uber workers have gone time and again complained of low pay and harsh working conditions. The ripple effect of the UK top court's verdict may soon be felt in India.
However, unlike the British government which is accused of turning a blind eye to the issues faced by the gig economy workers, the Indian government has taken steps to mitigate the lives of those who are part of the gig economy especially in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic.
In her Budget for the financial year 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a series of measures that benefit the gig economy workers. These include mandatory Employee State Insurance Corporation scheme cover and minimum wages for all such workers.