Uber driver pay proposals given lukewarm response

Uber’s announcement yesterday (17/3/21) that its UK drivers will be paid at least minimum wage and will receive holiday and sick pay was only partially welcomed by drivers and unions.

After a Supreme Court ruling that its drivers were in fact employees and not independent contractors, Uber announced that when the driver began a trip with a passenger inside they would be guaranteed UK Minimum Wage as well as 12.07% of their earnings put towards holiday pay.

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, described it as “an important day” for drivers in the UK, while trade unions bosses said “Uber had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing” after a long-running legal battle.

The ex Uber drivers who brought the case to the Supreme Court, Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar, gave a lukewarm response, pointing out that 30-50% of an Uber driver’s physical time on a shift is spent waiting around for people to call them for jobs and not driving them.

In a joint statement, they said: “The Supreme Court ruled that drivers are to be recognised as workers with entitlements to the minimum wage and holiday pay to accrue on working time from log on to log off, whereas Uber is committing only to these entitlements to accrue from time of trip acceptance to drop off.

“This means that Uber drivers will be still short-changed to the tune of 40-50%. Also, it is not acceptable for Uber to unilaterally decide the driver expense base in calculating minimum wage. This must be subject to collective agreement.”

GMB, the union for Uber drivers, was stronger in praise. Mick Rix, GMB national officer, said: “Uber had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing, but finally they’ve agreed to follow the ruling of the courts and treat their drivers as workers.”

He added: “GMB has consistently said we are willing to speak face to face to Uber about its treatment of drivers  – our door remains open.

“Other gig economy companies should take note – this is the end of the road for bogus self employment.”

Uber claims that its drivers earn an average of £17 per hour in London and £14 an hour in the rest of the UK, something many drivers have questioned.

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