In the latest victory for gig economy workers fighting for improved rights, a Dutch court has ruled that Uber drivers are employees rather than independent contractors.
The decision entitles Uber drivers to greater workers’ rights, and in some cases makes them eligible for back pay.
Amsterdam’s District Court ruled that drivers who work through the Uber app are covered by the collective labour agreement for taxi transportation.
It’s a victory for the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions, who had argued that Uber drivers are employees of a taxi company, and should be given the same pay and benefits as other taxi drivers.
“The legal relationship between Uber and these drivers meets all the characteristics of an employment contract. This was determined by three subdistrict court judges in a case brought against Uber by the trade union FNV,” the ruling said.
Uber must also pay a fine of 50,000 euros for its failure to implement the labour agreement for taxi drivers. according to the ruling.
Following the judge’s decision, the ride-hailing giant said it would appeal the ruling.
“We are disappointed with this decision because we know that the overwhelming majority of drivers wish to remain independent,” the company’s manager for Northern Europe, Maurits Schoenfeld, said in a statement.
A precedent set
It comes seven months after a long-running legal battle between Uber and its British drivers culminated in the UK’s supreme court ruling that Uber drivers are workers and not self-employed.
The ruling meant that the drivers in question are entitled to basic employment rights such as the minimum wage and paid annual leave.
At the time, it was predicted that the decision would unleash a flood of similar claims against Uber – one of which was the Dutch case.
In February when the UK court decision was made there were around 1,000 similar cases – which had been held pending the ruling – that were made eligible to be brought forward.