Legal expert weighs in
Following this announcement, HR Grapevine spoke to several legal experts.
Rebecca Thornley-Gibson, Partner at DMH Stallard, told HR Grapevine that Uber’s announcement “should not be a surprise”.
"Following last month’s Supreme Court ruling that their drivers are workers and entitled to these remuneration components, Uber was left with no choice but to meet its legal obligations,” she explained.
Despite this, the legal expert said that what the ride-hailing firm has not yet announced is how it will deal with “past failures to make these payments and when drivers will receive these monies”.
“As that will be a significant cost to Uber and involve complex calculations, those fighting on behalf on the drivers will continue to be involved in discussions that should result in settling historic underpayments…” she added.
Separately, Philip Richardson, Partner and Head of Employment Law at Stephenson’s told HR Grapevine that the decision by Uber is a “very welcome milestone”, not just for their workers but also for the gig economy as a whole.
“The judgment of the Supreme Court last month not only forced the hand of Uber but should also act as a wake-up call for many other companies that still use this employment model,” Richardson aded.
‘Uber is still fighting’
Jonathan Chamberlain, Employment Partner at law firm Gowling WLG, said that the ride-hailing firm has 'accepted that it lost but it is still fighting'.
He said: “They are not committing to paying drivers when they turn the app on, which is what the Supreme Court said they should do, but only when they're booked to a customer.
“Uber has always said that if a driver is free to work for another app, Uber shouldn't have to pay them. But, in 2016, which is the timeframe the judgment applies to, the courts said that didn't matter because there were no other apps for drivers in London to use to any meaningful extent. Ironically, in 2021, if Uber has more competition, it may owe their drivers less," Chamberlain added.
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