LONDON — Uber lost the latest round in the battle over its operating model Friday, when a British panel ruled that the company’s drivers are workers, not independent contractors, in a decision with broad implications for the so-called gig economy.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld a lower panel’s decision, agreeing that the two drivers in this case were “workers” under British law and therefore should receive the minimum wage and paid holidays. Uber said it would appeal.
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 minimum wage. Employment lawyers expect the case to be heard by higher courts.
Uber has tens of thousands of drivers in the U.K. who could argue they deserve the same status as the former drivers covered by Friday’s decision.