In England, Uber drivers are not small business owners, and they are not performing a “job on the side” in their spare time to supplement their income. They are workers — that is, employees — and they must be paid the minimum wage, even if they have no protection against unfair dismissal like “real” employees.
The first instance ruling of a British labor court could revolutionize the fate of the gig economy, the on-demand market of online “odd jobs.” The 40,000 Uber drivers, as well as the delivery bikers for Deliveroo or Foodora, are entitled to paid holidays, pensions and the rights of other workers.
This ruling is not binding in the common law courts. However, the sentence issued last Friday is significant because it could also suggest the direction of U.S. federal courts, which are weighing similar cases. It could also inspire a cultural shift in Italy, where we saw the first protests of Foodora riders in Turin.