Uber loses UK appeal bid to overturn workers' rights decision


LONDON (Reuters) – Uber [UBER.UL] lost an appeal on Friday to overturn a decision by a tribunal which said its drivers deserved workers’ rights such as the minimum wage, in a blow to the taxi app as it also battles to keep its licence in London.

FILE PHOTO: A photo illustration shows a London taxi passing as the Uber app logo is displayed on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London, Britain September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo – RC171CCBD740

Uber’s case was rejected at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in central London.

The U.S. ride-hailing service has faced regulatory and legal setbacks around the world amid opposition from traditional taxi services and concern among some regulators. It has been forced to quit several countries, such as Denmark and Hungary.

Last year, two drivers successfully argued at a tribunal that Uber exerted significant control over them to provide an on-demand taxi service and should grant them workers’ rights such as holiday entitlement and rest breaks.

The decision will not automatically apply to the app’s 50,000 drivers in Britain, but is likely to prompt further claims.

Uber is likely to challenge the decision at the Court of Appeal or seek the right to go straight to the Supreme Court.

FILE PHOTO: An electronic billboard advertising Uber is seen in front of an office block in London, Britain, June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Uber says its drivers enjoy the flexibility of their work and are self-employed, entitling them in British law to only basic entitlements such as health and safety.

The firm argued in September that its drivers operate in the same way as minicabs, or private hire vehicles, which sprung up in Britain more than 50 years ago.

FILE PHOTO: A photo illustration shows the Uber app on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London, Britain September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The verdict could benefit workers at thousands of companies including firms in the “gig economy”, where individuals work for multiple employers day-to-day without a fixed contract, such as food courier Deliveroo.

The Silicon Valley firm, which is valued at around $70 billion (53.20 billion pounds) with backers including Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, will be back in court on Dec. 11 to appeal a decision by London’s transport regulator to strip the app of its licence.

Transport for London shocked Uber in September by deeming it unfit to run a taxi service and refusing to renew its licence, citing the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.

Uber’s 40,000 drivers in the British capital can continue to take rides there until an appeals process is exhausted, which could take months or years.

Reporting by Michael Holden and Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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