Uber to give U.K. drivers minimum wage, retirement plan and more

David Brancaccio and Victoria Craig Mar 17, 2021
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In this photo illustration, a closeup of an Uber app is seen on an iPhone on Feb. 19, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Uber to give U.K. drivers minimum wage, retirement plan and more

David Brancaccio and Victoria Craig Mar 17, 2021
Heard on:
In this photo illustration, a closeup of an Uber app is seen on an iPhone on Feb. 19, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
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Uber has agreed to offer minimum wage, vacation pay and retirement contributions to drivers in the United Kingdom. This comes after the U.K.’s highest court ruled that drivers are “workers.” Uber drivers are still not defined under British law as full-time employees, but they are entitled to some benefits.

The BBC’s Victoria Craig, host of the global edition of the “Marketplace Morning Report,” has more from London. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.

David Brancaccio: Who do these changes apply to?

Victoria Craig: Uber’s 70,000 drivers in the U.K. The company will now pay at least the National Living Wage, which stands at just over $12. It’ll go to drivers regardless of their age. Here in the U.K., that wage fluctuates depending on whether you’re over or under 25.

Uber will also now automatically enroll its drivers in a retirement plan and pay contributions. And, it will give drivers vacation pay. This is on top of benefits it already offered including free insurance for sickness or injury.

Brancaccio: How will the company pay for these added benefits?

Craig: Uber’s regional general manager for northern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said it won’t come from higher fees for passengers. He told the BBC he plans to pay for it by expanding the business.

Jamie Heywood: By bringing drivers onto the platform and also by growing the cities as they unlock. This would be a good business move as well.

Craig: Important to note: Analysts have said prices did rise in California to offset driver benefits that were part of the Proposition 22 ballot measure that passed last November.

Brancaccio: What are you hearing from drivers?

Craig: The two men who originally brought the case against Uber welcome the changes but say they don’t go far enough. They want drivers to be paid for the time they spend waiting for customers, for example.

One employment lawyer told the BBC she worries about how it will affect the wider gig economy: If there are higher costs to operate, some companies, she argues, may hire fewer workers or just stop operating altogether.

Clarification (Mar. 17, 2020): This story has been updated to clarify the classification of Uber drivers in the U.K.

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