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UK Uber ruling highlights U.S.-Europe divide

Cornell University
22-Feb-2021 2:25 PM EST, by Cornell University

On Friday, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers are covered by employment law protections. As such, the decision guarantees that they are entitled to rights such as minimum wage and vacation time.   

Alex Colvin, dean of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and an expert in employment dispute resolution, says the decision is in line with Europe’s trajectory of broadening the reach of employment rights, a trend that stands in contrast with current U.S. law.   

Colvin says: 

“The U.K. Supreme Court’s decision recognizing that Uber drivers are covered by employment law protections is a major step in providing these workers with basic rights at work. It continues a trend we are seeing across Europe of countries recognizing that rideshare drivers are entitled to labor and employment law rights. 

“By contrast, a similar trend in the U.S. that had started with a broadening of the reach of employment rights in California was dealt a blow last fall when Proposition 22, an industry sponsored initiative, removed employment law protections from rideshare drivers in California. 

“It remains to be seen whether this presages a growing U.S.-Europe divide, with the U.S. following a distinctive limited workplace rights model, or if this U.K. decision signals that Prop. 22 was an exception to what will be a growing trend of recognition of the rights of workers in the gig economy.”

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