Uber said that as of Wednesday, all drivers in the UK will be defined as “workers,” a legal classification in the country that gives drivers a minimum wage and minimum vacation time. It does not provide the full protection of the fully “employee” classification, which includes paternity and maternity leave and severance pay upon dismissal.
In a statement, Uber said last month’s court ruling “provides a clearer path for a model that gives drivers worker rights – and keeps them flexible, as they have done since Uber’s launch in the UK in 2012 . “
Uber said drivers would receive the country’s minimum wage from the time they accept a ride request until they drop the passenger off at the location, but not while they wait for someone to request a ride. Motorists can still earn more if a fare is higher than the minimum wage, as is often the case, Uber said. As of April 1, the UK minimum wage for people over 25 is £ 8.91, or around $ 12.40.
The debate over whether drivers should be paid while they wait for fares has been controversial in the UK and abroad. Uber has argued that drivers would log into the app to collect no-trip pay, forcing the company to limit drivers’ hours. However, those in favor of work said that being paid while waiting was essential for drivers to earn a wage comparable to workers in other sectors.
“What Uber is forced to give to workers in the UK is pretty significant,” said Veena Dubal, a law professor at the University of California at Hastings who studies gig economy. “There is a much greater opening available to workers and unions to ensure that all working time is paid, but it will certainly be a struggle.”
For the vacation, drivers receive 12 percent of their income, which is paid every two weeks, a calculation set by the government.
Uber didn’t reveal how much reclassifying British drivers would add to costs, but said in a filing for approval that it didn’t change the company’s goal of becoming profitable this year. London is one of Uber’s five largest markets, and the UK accounts for about 6.4 percent of the company’s total gross bookings.