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Uber in new legal dispute over drivers’ working hours

By March 22, 2021July 13th, 2021Employment, Human Rights, People

Soon after the conclusion of a long, protracted dispute, Uber are expecting even more legal action as unions have said that the tech company continues to underpay its UK drivers. 

The app recently accepted, after a prolonged legal battle, that its 70,000 UK drivers were workers and entitled to rights such as a minimum wage and holiday pay. The main crux of the new issue is that campaigners say that Uber’s calculation of working time differs from the supreme court ruling. 

Whereas the court stated that this should be calculated between the times that a driver logs on and off the app, Uber have said that working time starts from when a job is accepted by a driver, a distinction that has massive knock-on implications as to what drivers can and can’t claim. Drivers still have to buy their car and fuel while not being paid when waiting for a ride, despite the company deeming them as currently working.

Drivers have said that these boundaries could potentially cut earnings by up to 50%.

Opposition primarily comes from the App Drivers & Couriers Union, who brought the original case to Uber. They claim that it is not the company’s right to unilaterally decide how the supreme court ruling should be applied. 

Uber’s response to the claims are that the supreme court’s definition of working times were based on their models and practices from 2016, which are no longer applicable. 

The legal provisions set on Uber as well as those which continue to be fought over will have knock-on effects to other similar ride sharing or private taxi companies, with other firms under pressure to raise benefits and conditions for their drivers as well. This is something that will likely be passed onto the customer with higher fares to offset improved payments to drivers. 

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