Uber has announced that from Wednesday the company will grant worker status, minimum wage benefits among other privileges to drivers using the taxi app in the United Kingdom.
The announcement from Uber comes weeks after a UK court verdict stating that the drivers must be classified under workers and granted benefits. The US firm said that 70,000 UK drivers will receive the benefits immediately. According to reports, Uber has said that drivers will earn at least the minimum wage, which currently stands at £8.72 ($12.12), after accepting a trip request and expenses.
The company also informed that these drivers will also receive holiday pay 12.07% of their earnings, which will be paid every two weeks. Reportedly, the eligible driver will be enrolled in a pension plan that they and the company will pay into.
Uber and the UK drivers have been at loggerheads over the workers classification since 2016. During the UK Supreme Court hearing, Uber informed that the drivers are self-employed. The UK court dismissed Uber’s appeal. According to reports, there are three designations in the UK – self-employed, employed and worker. Although the workers designation doesn’t make them employees of the company but entitles them to the minimum wage, holiday pay, and a pension if they are eligible.
Meanwhile, two former Uber UK drivers – James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, who took the company to Court – welcomed Uber’s announcement but said that the company is ‘short-changing’ drivers.
“While we welcome Uber’s decision to finally commit to paying minimum wage, holiday pay and pensions we observe that they have arrived at the table with this offer a day late and a dollar short, literally,” James and Yaseen said in a statement.
The duo pointed out that while the Supreme Court ruled that drivers are to be recognized as workers with entitlements to the minimum wage and holiday from the time they log in to log off whereas Uber is committing only to these entitlements from the time of accepting a trip to drop off. “This means that Uber drivers will be still short-changed to the tune of 40-50%. Also, it is not acceptable for Uber to unilaterally decide the driver expense base in calculating minimum wage. This must be subject to a collective agreement,” they said.
While UK drivers are likely to benefit from this, the question arises whether Indian drivers will get the same benefits. Although the UK Supreme Court Verdict points out that there will be a huge impact on gig economy workers, the Indian government has put legal protection for gig workers. The Centre has mandated that the law on minimum wages will apply to gig workers. When it comes to pensions, gig workers and the central government will put some money in the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) that will cover these workers.