A French court has directed Uber to pay roughly 17 million euros ($18.43 million) in damages and lost wages to a community of drivers who contended they should have been regarded as employees instead of being regarded as being self-employed, according to reports quoting information from both the company and the representatives of the drivers involved in the case.
“This is a huge victory after a long legal battle which started in 2020”, said lawyer Stephane Teyssier who represented the 139 drivers that had brought the case before the Conseil des Prud’hommes labour court in Lyon.
The court ruled that the work relationships of the clients him should have been classified as employment contracts, which essentially meant that the ride hailing company should have compensated them for professional expenses such as car purchases, fuel, and overtime, he added.
“We are determined to make progress on the issue of platform workers’ rights and are convinced that the right way forward is through social dialogue with drivers’ representatives,” Uber said.
According to Teyssier, the ruling only applies to the past and does not imply that the drivers will always have employee status.
Many countries are debating how to qualify the legal status of gig economy workers on online platforms such as ride-hailing or food delivery.
Platforms contend that workers are self-sufficient and have control over the amount of work that they want to do and when they want to work, whereas workers and unions frequently contend that because they rely on the platforms for a living, it is imperative the workers should be accorded the same benefits that companies give to their employees.
According to an Uber spokesperson, the company’s goal is to “build a model that preserves the flexibility they desire while guaranteeing concrete improvements in their working conditions.”
In 2020, France’s highest court for the first time recognized an Uber driver’s right to be considered an employee, a ruling that has impacted the U.S. firm’s business model by requiring it to pay more taxes and provide workers with benefits such as paid holidays.
A landmark sector agreement with French drivers was announced by Uber earlier this month, according to which the company guaranteed a minimum of 7.65 euros net ($8.25) for every ride which set an example for the gig industry after months of negotiations.
(Adapted from EuroNews.com)