Last reviewed 18 March 2021

In February, we reported that Uber had lost its long court battle with regard to whether its drivers were self-employed agents, as it insisted, or workers, as a group of them had claimed (See Supreme Court confirms that Uber drivers are workers).

The company’s immediate response to the ruling was to argue that it only applied to the drivers who had brought the claim, but law firm Leigh Day, which had been acting for a number of Uber drivers, said that tens of thousands would claim the right to be classed as workers.

In a sudden change of direction Uber announced that, with effect from 18 March 2021, all 70,000 of its UK drivers will be given a guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay and pensions.

They will, it confirmed, earn at least the National Living Wage (NLW),after expenses, at the rate paid to over-25s of £8.72 an hour. This will be in addition to the free insurance to cover sickness, injury and maternity and paternity payments which Uber began providing for all drivers in 2018.

All drivers will be paid holiday time based on 12.07% of their earnings, paid out on a fortnightly basis.

The regional general manager for Northern Europe at Uber, Jamie Heywood, has called on other operators to follow Uber’s lead in giving drivers the rights of worker status while still offering them the chance to work flexibly.

One point of contention that remains is that Uber has continued to argue that, even if drivers are found to be workers, this should apply only to the time during journeys, in other words when they have a passenger in the car.

James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, the two former drivers who started the claim against Uber, have said that this will mean that drivers will be “short-changed” and that they should be paid from the moment they log onto the app.

Mick Rix, national officer of the GMB union, said: “Other gig economy companies should take note — this is the end of the road for bogus self-employment”.