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Businesses The Almighty Buck Transportation United Kingdom

Uber Drivers Have Rights on Wages and Time Off, UK Panel Rules (apnews.com) 125

Uber suffered a blow on Friday to its operations in its biggest market outside the United States when a British panel ruled in London rejected the company's argument that its drivers were self employed. The decision, which affirmed a ruling made last year, means that Uber will have to ensure its drivers in Britain are paid a minimum wage and entitled to time off, casting doubt on a common hiring model in the so-called gig economy that relies on workers who do not have a formal contract as permanent employees. From a report: Judge Jennifer Eady rejected Uber's argument that the men were independent contractors, because the drivers had no opportunity to make their own agreements with passengers and the company required them to accept 80 percent of trip requests when they were on duty. The tribunal, Eady wrote in her decision, found "the drivers were integrated into the Uber business of providing transportation services." The ride-hailing service said it has never required drivers in the U.K. to accept 80 percent of the trips offered to them and that drivers make well above the minimum wage. Employment lawyers expect the case to be heard by higher courts as early as next year.

Uber Drivers Have Rights on Wages and Time Off, UK Panel Rules

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  • sounds like a Mr.Burns joke from the Simpsons.

  • I don't get it (Score:2, Insightful)

    If I don't eat at McDonald's I don't pay McDonald's.

    And if they don't want to serve me food for 2 weeks I'm definitely not paying them for those 2 weeks.

    Same is true if I had a meal plan somewhere.

    My job (software consultant) says they want me sooo bad they'll pay for me to have 3 weeks off. The US gov doesn't make them do that.

    So why is a gov MAKING some businesses PAY for services in exchange for NOTHING?

    Another place where we are paying the government for someone else's generosity.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think you don't understand the culture of work outside the US.

      In the US, corporations and very rich have complete control of the government. In most other countries, much less so.

      Labour laws are made to define socially acceptable boundaries and relationships between employers and workers.

      In most countries, it is not socially acceptable to not have annual leave. In the UK, the minimum prescribed by law is 20 days, but most companies offer 25 days, and some offer more (my employer offers 30 days).

      This has m

      • You appeal to a lot of things here, but I still don't understand why I don't have to pay for meals when I don't eat there and why businesses DO have to pay BY LAW for services when they aren't getting anything during that time. It just seems like a weird double standard. Perhaps you were subtly touching on an answer there and it went over my head.

        I also don't understand why we should care about society. I care about my neighbor. Society is just an abstraction. 83% of people in the US (that includes a lot
  • ... negotiate with passengers because the passengers are not who is contracting the drivers in the first place. The passengers are Uber's clients, not the driver's.

    Uber is the one contracting the drivers. The drivers are using their own equipment, at their own cost, and setting their own work schedule.

    The drivers no more get to negotiate prices with their passengers than an independent contractor that's hired by a construction firm gets to negotiate their prices with the construction firm's clients.

    • if Uber didn't tightly control working hours by punishing drivers for not accepting unprofitable trips or not accepting enough trips. Uber has been caught doing both and I imagine a subpoena could find lots of other examples of Uber dangling carrots to force certain behavior if we actually had a working labor board anywhere on earth.

      I could probably come up with other reasons why Uber drivers are, for all intents and purposes, employees, but I'll give other's a chance to chime in. Also, you probably do
    • Drivers don't get the opportunity to negotiate with passengers because the passengers are not who is contracting the drivers in the first place. The passengers are Uber's clients, not the driver's.

      IMO, Uber should fix this. Enabling drivers to set prices would solve their employee vs contractor problem in most (maybe all?) jurisdictions.

      The fix is pretty straightforward. Essentially, pricing should be done by a sort of a real-time auction. Drivers should be allowed to set their price in generic terms, using a per-mile, per-minute, etc. model, similar to how taxi metering is done in most places, or to how I'm sure Uber calculates prices now -- but the driver gets to pick the numbers. Drivers should

      • and what about airport fees / toll / etc in that system?

        • and what about airport fees / toll / etc in that system?

          Clearly those would have to be included in the fare -- both en route to pickup and from pickup to destination.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        Or, perhaps, people should not choose to be working for Uber at all if they are not satisfied with the amount Uber is willing to offer. As an independent contractor you can try and negotiate your pay all you want but if the person who is going to be paying for your services doesnâ(TM)t want to pay you that much, and never promised or even suggested that they would, then not being paid what you want for working for them is your own fault for agreeing to work for them in the first place for less than yo
    • Of course. And that's why the drivers are legally employed by Uber rather than being independent contractors.

  • "Gig economy" is nothing new

    It has one major problem There is always someone who will take a job for a lower rate than you need.

    This lead to unionization, insurance, paid time off etc. etc

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If I am signed into the Uber app AND the Lyft app but don't accept any jobs, do they both have to pay me minimum wage?

    • they may be forced to schedule shifts and take any ride that comes up. But uber can be forced to pay full mileage / some kind of liable insurance coverage / cell phone reimbursement (very in us states) / toll fees / etc.
        (based us laws don't know how it works in the uk)

    • Drivers of larger vehicles already have - by law - to have a personal ID device which logs time at the wheel. Without the device inserted, the engine won't run (or the brakes won't release - however the immobilisation is achieved). Running or owning a vehicle without the controller hardware installed and working will lose your company your operating license (which is what Uber has lost from TfL and is appealing against). A driver found driving over hours loses his driving license - no ifs, no buts, no maybe
  • I can understand why a business owner would want to treat their employees unfairly. But why would someone who works for another object to being treated fairly? After all labor laws are the bare legal minimum yet that's too much for some. And no, you shouldn't be allowed to demand more immigrants to undercut people already here just so you can buy your 3rd Mercedes.
    • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

      The underlying supposition to your statement is that the only reason anybody doesn't pay "bare legal minimum" -- assuming it's even an employer/employee relationship -- is "to buy a 3rd Mercedes".

      While that's true of large multi-nationals, it's not true of the majority of businesses, with razor sharp margins.

      Perhaps these laws should instead mandate some minimum percentage of *profit* be paid to employees. So that it accurately ensures fair wages when there is actually money being made.

      BTW, Uber bleeds like

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by boudie2 ( 1134233 )
        If you have a business plan that isn't economically feasible you shouldn't blame your employees. And if margins are so razor thin why does anybody bother? No sympathy for Uber.
        • by cas2000 ( 148703 )

          true, but it's about more than just "blame". If your business isn't viable you shouldn't exploit your employees and require them to subsidise it.

          a business crying poor and whining that they can't afford to pay fair wages is doing exactly that. if a business can't survive without ripping off its workers then it deserves to go under.

          and whining that their customers won't pay 5 cents extra for a coffee or whatever it is they're buying is bullshit too - customers don't have a right to have their purchases sub

          • It seems if you want to have a successful business these days you better know every dirty trick in the book.
        • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

          If you have a business plan that isn't economically feasible you shouldn't blame your employees.

          Since when is paying someone a market price "blaming"? Look, the choice isn't between some razor-sharp-margin business paying "well" and "paying bare minimum".

          The choice is some razor-sharp-margin business "paying bare minimum" or "pay nothing at all".

          And if margins are so razor thin why does anybody bother?

          Do you understand the implication of this sentence? I means instead of being paid "bare minimum", that person isn't paid at all. Because the business doesn't exist.

          People act like there's some infinite amount of money or fat-margin business ideas out there and

          • You waited a week and that's the best argument you can come up with? Three dollars an hour is better than no dollars at all? Maybe we should bring back indentured servitude? This ain't Bangladesh we're talking about. What about a standard of living?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was about time somebody put a stop to this 'business model' which amounts to pure exploitation.

    I am all for innovation and new business models, but what uber was doing is crass and blatantly illegal in the UK. They've stretched intepretations of labour laws, stretched definition of what a contractor is, not to mention licensing and passenger and driver safety. Above all, it's a wrong and exploitative model and I hope the UK courts will continue to enforce laws in this and all similar cases.

  • I couldn't find details on the implication of this ruling. Does this mean that if I sign up to be a Uber driver in the UK, I can flip the switch to online, never take a single rider, and Uber is required to pay me a minimum wage for doing nothing more than sitting at my desk doing my regular day job? How do traditional taxi services in the UK handle things? Are those drivers paid by the hour? And if so what repercussions do they face if they never take a fare? Can they be easily fired?
    • How do traditional taxi services in the UK handle things?

      Your contract of employment (do you have those in the US?) will state either set hours and day of work, hours per week ("per rota") etc. and normally a stipulation that you don't accept employment from some other company. Break those terms of contact and you've broken the contract. So the company is not required to pay you.

      A common stipulation is a little more complex - you might be required to get the agreement of your existing boss before acceptin

  • If Uber drivers have to be employees because they don't get to negotiate with the end-client, then it sounds like Amazon Mechanical Turk is in the same situation.
    Must make sure they pay all users completing hits at least £7.20 / Hour.

  • Uber suffered a blow on Friday to its operations...

    That opening line says it all. Uber's business model is treat employees as shitty as it possibly can.

  • The real problem in situations like this is the classic one of an imbalance of power. Basically, certainly in this case, the employer has nearly all the power. Thatâ(TM)s why there are regulations of various kinds, to even out the balance somewhat. Thatâ(TM)s what unions are for, and sometimes they get too powerful and then they start misusing their power.
    Itâ(TM)s all about balance.

  • It's not there to provide flexibility, but to dodge benefits. Those that have flexibility are those that have it anywhere. Perhaps it should DIAF.
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