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Uber drivers in UK are now workers entitled to minimum wage, paid holidays, pension

Over 70,000 Uber drivers in the United Kingdom will be treated as workers, earning at least a minimum wage and getting paid holidays and pension. Drivers would start getting benefits without retaining the right to flexible hours. 

Last month, the UK supreme court dismissed Uber’s appeal against a 2016 landmark employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be classified as workers. Uber argued that drivers were “independent contractors” who do not work for Uber, but enter into a contract with passengers when the latter books a ride. The supreme court shot down this logic, stating that attempts to draft contracts that sidestep employment protections are unenforceable. 

When the apex court delivered the judgment, Uber had argued that the ruling applied to only a small number of drivers directly involved in the case and that the court’s findings would not apply to all UK drivers.

It has reversed its position now, saying that drivers would get at least legal minimum wage, after expenses and holiday time at 12.07% of earnings, paid out on a fortnightly basis. Drivers will also be automatically enrolled into a pension plan which is funded by Uber and the drivers. 

“Drivers will automatically be enrolled into a pension plan with contributions from Uber alongside driver contributions, setting drivers up over the long term,” Uber said. Benefits will also include free insurance in case of sickness and injury and the existing parental payments. 

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The company said it consulted thousands of drivers over the last several weeks who said they wanted these additional benefits but without any loss of flexibility. Uber’s UK rides business represents about 6.4% of global Mobility Gross Bookings in Q4 2020, the company said in a SEC filing on Tuesday

“Uber is just one part of a larger private-hire industry, so we hope that all other operators will join us in improving the quality of work for these important workers who are an essential part of our everyday lives,” Jamie Heywood, an Uber executive said. 

Groups raised concerns on India’s social security law for gig workers 

In January, a group of 23 trade unions, civil society organisations and members of academia have raised concerns with the India’s draft rules for Code on Social Security, 2020, which guarantees certain benefits to gig workers and platform workers.

The organisations raised concerns around the burden of registration of workers, workers’ data privacy, and overall ease of accessibility to benefits. The Code’s foundational flaws “mar the efficacy and effectiveness of the Draft Rules in being able to provide social security entitlements to platform and gig workers”, the organisations’ joint submission said. For instance, the Code failed to address how the fact that aggregators refer to “platform workers” as contractors and agents in their legal documents. Further, the joint submission recommended that the Code should have:

  1. Specified that all workers associated with any of the nine aggregator categories are to be treated as platform workers.
  2. Provided clarity on which ministry and legislation will aggregators function and operation, and, also
  3. How contributions of aggregators would be collected and managed.

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