Uber drivers in the United Kingdom have won a huge victory for their livelihoods. On Friday, Sept. 24, the ride-hailing company announced that drivers will now be auto-enrolled in a pension plan and will even receive back pay through May of 2017, The Guardian reports.
Earlier this year, a supreme court ruling in the United Kingdom required that Uber guarantee its drivers a minimum hourly wage, holiday pay, and pensions. Ride-hailing companies like Uber have been known to try avoiding most workers’ rights by claiming that its drivers are independent self-employed “partners,” which means they’d be ineligible for basic workers’ rights such as a legally enforceable minimum wage and workplace pension.
The UK supreme court declared in March that drivers were not partners and were in fact workers due to Uber’s level of control over them, which included things like setting fares and failing to inform drivers of a passenger’s destination until that passenger was in the car.
Now, Uber will be be required to guarantee its 70,000 UK drivers those basic rights, including auto-enrolling drivers to a pension scheme that contributes three percent of a driver’s earnings to a pension pot. Drivers also have a chance to contribute up to five percent of their earnings, but they can also opt out of the scheme if they so choose. Uber also has to pay pensions as far back as May 1, 2017 — or, if the drivers joined more recently, the date of their first ride.
After the ruling, Uber’s regional general manager of northern and eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, came out in favor of a cross-industry pension scheme that would include other ride-hailing companies. After all, many drivers work across multiple platforms, so an industry-wide pension scheme would make sense.
That said, labor unions are still pushing for better rights with the belief that this will be merely the tip of the iceberg.