LONDON, U.K. - Ride-hailing app Uber has lost a bid to overturn a decision by a tribunal that said the app’s drivers deserved workers’ rights such as the minimum wage.
The decision came as a blow to the company that is simultaneously battling to keep its license in London.
Son after the decision was announced, Uber said it would appeal to higher courts against Friday’s decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in central London.
Uber has been facing regulatory and legal setbacks around the world amid opposition from traditional taxi services.
Some regulators have also raised concerns and Uber has been forced to quit several countries, including Denmark and Hungary.
Two Uber drivers successfully argued at a British employment tribunal last year that Uber exerted significant control over them to provide an on-demand taxi service and should grant them workers’ rights such as holiday entitlement and rest breaks.
The decision did not automatically apply to the app’s 50,000 drivers in Britain but was seen as likely to prompt more claims.
The decision could benefit workers at thousands of companies including firms in the “gig economy,” where individuals work for multiple employers without a fixed contract.
Two drivers were backed by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain and said these companies were “choosing to deprive workers of their rights.”
Jason Moyer-Lee, the IWGB’s general secretary said, “Today’s victory is further proof, as if any more was needed, that the law is clear and these companies are simply choosing to deprive workers of their rights.”
Uber has argued that its drivers enjoyed the flexibility of their work and are self-employed, entitling them in British law to only basic entitlements such as health and safety.
In September, it argued that its drivers operate in the same way as minicabs, or private hire vehicles, which sprung up in Britain more than 50 years ago.
An Uber spokesman said on Friday that the company had 14 days to submit its application and decide whether to apply to take the case to the Supreme Court, Britain’s top judicial body.
Uber U.K.’s Acting General Manager Tom Elvidge said in a statement, “Over the last year we have made a number of changes to our app to give drivers even more control. The main reason why drivers use Uber is because they value the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive.”