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Indy Notes: Bloomberg Law on How the UK Uber Ruling Affects US Gig Economy Workers

Feb 22, 2021
(updated: Dec 6, 2022)
Max 5 min read

If you’re anything like me, you saw the news out of the United Kingdom last week about Uber’s loss in the courts and immediately wondered what the implications would be for freelance and gig workers in the United States. 

Also, if you’re anything like me, you struggled to figure this out because you lack the proper legal training and understanding. Fortunately, Erin Mulvaney and Kathleen Dailey from Bloomberg Law stepped up and did a great job breaking it down for lay people. 

The issue at hand is the fact that, as the article states, “[w]ith the rise of the app-based gig economy and companies increasingly relying on contractors for core parts of their business, the lines between employee and contractor have blurred.”

The lines between employee and contractor have blurred.

Basically, while this is a landmark ruling in the UK, it might be a long time before we see any kind of similar ruling in the US. There are several reasons for that  – one of the most important is that workers in the UK are classified in completely different ways than US-based workers.  

Mulvaney and Dailey explain:

“Workers in the U.K. can fall into three buckets: “self-employed"; individuals who work under employment contracts; and individuals who work under “workers’ contracts,” where they personally perform services as part of a profession or business undertaking carried on by the other party.

The U.K. court ruled that Uber drivers are in the third category and entitled to minimum wage, paid leave, and other job protections.

The classification designations are essential to why the U.K. ruling doesn’t directly provide any weight to similar arguments made in the U.S. They work within different parameters, and the arguments levied for benefits fall under a different set of factors.”

The article goes more in depth when it comes to this law and the similar laws that are trying to be passed in the US, or, in the case of California’s Proposition 22, ones that seem to do the exact opposite. So this ruling doesn’t have a direct relationship with any laws current in America. But should it? That’s perhaps a question that requires a whole other article.

The team here at Indy will be keeping tabs on all of these legal situations involving freelancers around the United States and keep you informed, because laws like this can have an outsize impact on our community. 

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