Will my Uber ride cost more - and what will its minimum wage decision mean for others in gig economy?

Uber will guarantee its 70,000 UK drivers minimum wage and access to holiday pay and pensions from today, following a Supreme Court ruling. But some say Uber aren't following "the spirit of the ruling".
  • By Will Tullis, ITV News

Uber will guarantee its 70,000 UK drivers a minimum wage and access to holiday pay and pensions from today, following a landmark Supreme Court ruling last month.

So what do Uber drivers and other gig economy workers think? How will this impact other gig economy employers like Deliveroo and Just Eat? And what will this mean for consumers?

In February, Uber lost a Supreme Court case over drivers' rights. The highest court in the land ruled that Uber drivers should be classed as workers, rather than self-employed, independent contractors. 

The ruling means that Uber drivers are entitled to basic employment protections, including minimum wage, sick pay, and holiday pay.

Uber Eats delivery workers are not included in the ruling, which only applies to drivers for Uber’s taxi service.

An Uber eats cyclist out for delivery in Glasgow. Credit: PA

What does this mean for Uber drivers? 

ITV News asked two Uber drivers how they feel about being classed as workers by the taxi company.

Saif, London

Saif, 63, has been an Uber driver since 2017. He also drives for taxi service Bolt. Saif told ITV News he thinks the ruling is a positive step that gives hope to all gig economy workers. But he also has some reservations. 

He hoped that Uber would pay drivers from the time they log on until the time they log off, rather than just from the time they accept a trip:

“I feel happy and I have hope, I feel like [Uber is] on the right track...but we need to keep putting the pressure on."

Daniel, Glasgow

Daniel, an Uber driver from Glasgow, told ITV News he doesn’t feel the changes affect him, as he very rarely makes less than the minimum wage with Uber. Daniel has worked for Uber for two years.

“There are positives and negatives. With current changes it will probably negatively affect a lot of drivers who were benefiting from being self employed, but it does open the door to further employee benefits, like Uber paying for expenses.”

Uber drivers took action against the company, with the legal fight going to the Supreme Court for judgement.

Will drivers get paid when they don’t have passengers?

Uber drivers will now be entitled to at least the minimum wage. Drivers will get paid from the moment they accept a trip to when they drop off a passenger. This means drivers get paid for the time it takes to drive to a passenger after accepting a trip. Before, drivers were paid per trip rather than for the time from accepting a trip.

James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam - two former drivers who sued Uber over the employment status - said Uber drivers should get paid based on the time they log in and log off for work, rather than just for the time they accept a trip. 

Uber drivers Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar outside the Supreme Court, London, which concluded that drivers should be classed as workers Credit: left

How much will drivers earn?

Uber said drivers will earn at least  £8.72 an hour - the National Living Wage - after accepting a trip request and after expenses.

Uber said that on average, drivers earn £17 an hour in London and £14 an hour in the rest of the UK. The taxi app - which launched in the UK in 2012 - said that minimum wage for drivers would be “a floor, not a ceiling”.

Holiday pay, sick pay, and pensions?

Uber will pay drivers holiday pay every two weeks, based on 12.07% of drivers’ earnings. Drivers will also be put onto a pension plan that Uber will contribute to.

Uber drivers are considered “workers” rather than “full employees”. In law, workers have fewer rights than full employees, who are guaranteed sick pay.

However, Uber said its drivers have had free insurance to cover sickness, injury, parental leave and workplace injuries since 2018. 

Will this make my Uber trip more expensive?

Uber has said it will not raise their fare prices.

However, after a similar court ruling in California, Uber raised prices. Last month, Joe Aiston, of law firm Taylor Wessing said the Supreme Court ruling would “almost certainly” result in fare rises. 

Credit: PA

What does this mean for the gig economy? 

There are about five million gig economy workers in the UK. Many of these workers are considered self-employed - they have flexible hours but aren’t entitled to the benefits of full employees. 

The ruling could impact other gig economy workers and companies. Employment lawyer David Samuels told ITV News that gig economy employers could face legal risks if they operate in a similar way to Uber but aren’t paying their members of staff correctly. 

Mr Samuels, of law firm Lewis Silkin, told ITV News “we have not heard the last of this” when it comes to Uber’s decision to pay drivers from the moment they accept a trip. He said the Supreme Court ruling suggests drivers should be paid from the moment they log in.

Unions called the Supreme Court ruling historic. Alex Marshall, of the IWGB union called this a massive victory for Uber drivers and said it will “send shockwaves across the gig economy”. Mr Marshall said the ruling “sets a precedent to end the exploitative practices synonymous with” other gig economy employers.

Deliveroo, Just Eat, Uber Eats

Uber Eats - the online takeaway arm of Uber - will not change the way it treats employees. Uber Eats couriers will remain self-employed.

ITV News spoke to Uber Eats rider Cristian Lee Santabarbara. Cristian, from York, said the campaigning of gig economy workers that led to the Supreme Court ruling was a huge step forward.

But he doesn’t have much hope for Uber extending the ruling to Uber Eats riders:

“I’ve sat around for four hours waiting for an order and not got paid a penny…[Uber Eats] don’t pay you to wait at restaurants. If there are no orders, there’s no pay”.

Cristian, 22, thinks that Uber has “gone against the spirit of the ruling” by refusing to pay drivers from the time they log in.

Cristian said he has friends who work sixty hour weeks in the gig economy and still rely on foodbanks and universal credit. But he is hopeful the Supreme Court’s ruling will lead to change in the gig economy.

Online takeaway company Deliveroo has 50,000 UK riders. Deliveroo said it would not make the same commitment as Uber unless there was a change in the law that forced all gig economy firms to provide the benefits. 

Deliveroo told ITV News: “Deliveroo has called for a change in the law since 2017. We have long argued that we want to offer riders full flexibility and more security."

Takeaway service Just Eat told ITV News that the company launched a new plan for their riders in Birmingham and London last year.

Just Eat said all riders contracted through this plan are entitled to hourly pay, minimum/living wage, pension contributions and certain statutory benefits including holiday pay and sick pay.

Uber told ITV News: “If drivers were entitled to the minimum wage for all the time they simply had the app open, this would result in set shifts and a drastic cut to the number of drivers who can earn with Uber, at a time when the UK needs more earnings opportunities not less."

"Drivers have told us this is not what they want and we know the changes announced yesterday are the only way to ensure these new rights come with flexibility".