Uber will grant its more than 70,000 U.K. drivers “worker” status on Tuesday, entitling its gig workforce to the minimum wage and benefits

Uber will grant its more than 70,000 U.K. drivers “worker” status, the company announced Tuesday, entitling its gig workforce to the minimum wage and benefits and marking a major departure for a company that has built a business model out of treating drivers as independent contractors.

The announcement comes nearly a month after Britain’s Supreme Court ruled in this specific case that drivers are “workers” from the moment they log on to the app until they log off, and are entitled to protections including holiday pay and a pension, along with the wage floor.

Britain’s Supreme Court rules Uber drivers are ‘workers’ entitled to minimum wage and paid vacation

In a regulatory filing from chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, and an accompanying news release, Uber said it would begin treating drivers as workers from Wednesday onward. The company would pay workers at least Britain’s national living wage from the time they accept a trip request onward, and before expenses, Uber said. Drivers will also receive holiday pay “based on 12.07% of their earnings,” paid out every two weeks, and will be enrolled in a pension plan.


Uber has previously eschewed the traditional employer-worker relationship around the world. “Worker” is a unique status in the United Kingdom that is not the same as an employee but entitles recipients to a wage floor and certain benefits. Uber has come under criticism in the country for its treatment of workers, who are often left to rely on the social safety net because the company does not cover what critics see as basic worker costs.

As Uber avoided paying into unemployment, the federal government helped thousands of its drivers weather the pandemic

By contrast to Uber’s announcement regarding its U.K. drivers, the company worked in California to defeat provisions in a new law known as AB5 that aimed to grant gig drivers employment and entitle them to the minimum wage. Instead, it worked with other gig companies to pass a ballot initiative known as Prop 22 that cemented drivers’ status as independent contractors, an effort that was ultimately successful.

“This is an important day for drivers in the UK,” Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said in a statement. “Uber drivers will receive an earnings guarantee, holiday pay and a pension, and will retain the flexibility they currently value. Uber is just one part of a larger private-hire industry, so we hope that all other operators will join us in improving the quality of work for these important workers who are an essential part of our everyday lives.”

Originally published at The Washington Post