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The article by Osborne reflects on the decision of the court that obliged Uber, an international transportation network, to pay a living wage to its self-employed drivers to promote their labor rights. In response, Uber declared its intention to appeal this decision. The company supports its views by the following argument: the implementation of the mentioned rule would lead to the rethink of the very concept of the gig economy that is characterized by the use of the Internet as an intermediary between customers and workers.
In my opinion, this decision can have large implications related to other similar companies and their self-employed workers, clarifying the employment status of the latter. According to Osborne, “many people were locked out of employment tribunals by fees of up to £1,200” (par. 21). This proves the fact of exploitation of those workers who are self-employed. It appears that Uber steals its money, refusing to pay a minimum wage or overtime. In this connection, the new law can be regarded as rather beneficial for workers because it is likely to enhance their social status. I would like to point out that the court’s verdict is based on a similar decision related to the collective lawsuit of Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts. These solutions promise to become a precedent in disputes between Uber and its drivers in other countries. In addition, the decision can affect the other technology companies that operate as marketplaces and connect freelancers with their clients.
However, the company intends to defend its business model in the framework of the gig economy in which people are engaged in the in-line schedule with a minimum of labor safety and labor rights that, in fact, allows maintaining a low cost of transportation services. The representatives of this international company consider that drivers want to be self-employed rather than full-time employees because it allows them to preserve freedom and flexibility, independently determining working days and hours. Considering the situation from this point of view, I can note that it is likely that the cost of taxi service can increase, breaking the core value of this kind of business. Furthermore, the mentioned tendency can cause reduction of demand for such kind of service and subsequent significant losses. At the same time, the government has its own interest in changing the attitude of Uber toward its part-time drivers. On a large scale, self-employment means arrearages of taxes in all areas of business, thus leading to the fact that it is better to provide workers basic labor rights so that they were obliged to pay taxes.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that I believe that the court’s decision proves that the success of Uber is based not on drivers who are self-employed, but on those who work as an integral part of the corporation. Having similar rights with the full-time workers, the self-employed workers would feel cohesion with the company and, moreover, have fundamental rights for pension and other social bonuses. However, the reaction of the gig economy in case of implementation of this new rule remains ambiguous. It appears that this issue can be revealed only with time, whether the decision would be implemented or not. In any way, this case clearly shows that many similar services can encounter the same issues related to the provision of basic labor rights.
Osborne, Hilary. “Uber Loses Right to Classify UK Drivers as Self-Employed.” The Guardian. 2016, Web.