Uber’s 70,000 UK drivers will be guaranteed a minimum hourly wage, holiday pay and pensions.
The US-based ride-hailing company, which was launched in the UK in 2012, said its drivers will now earn at least the national living wage after accepting a trip request and after expenses.
Uber described it as “an important day” for UK drivers, while campaigners said it was “a step in the right direction” for the firm and the wider gig economy, who “must now be recognised as workers.”
The news has opened the door as to why UK drivers weren’t already being paid the minimum wage - and who owns the billion-dollar company Uber?
Who owns Uber?
Uber’s ownership is made up of individual shareholders and institutional investors.
It was founded by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick in March 2009 and attracted large investments from around the world before becoming a public company on 10 May 2019.
Former chief executive (CEO) of the Expedia Group, Dara Khosrowshahi, replaced Kalanick as Uber CEO in 2017 and became the largest individual shareholder, with 0.05% of company shares.
Other individuals with a substantial stake in Uber include CLO (chief legal officer) Tony West, formerly of PepsiCo, and CFO (chief financial officer) Nelson J. Chai who both have a 0.01% stake.
Institutional investors hold the vast majority of shares, making up just over 70% of total shares outstanding in the company, according to marketbeat.com.
Who are Uber’s largest company shareholders?
As of the last reporting date on 16 February 2021, Morgan Stanley held the largest number of shares in Uber, equating to 6.9% of company ownership.
Morgan Stanley, a multinational financial services and investment firm, owns 122,006,738 shares in Uber, with a market value of more than $6.2 billion (£4.46b).
Sands Capital Management LLC owns 34,833,403 shares of the company, representing 1.975% of ownership and equating to $1.78b (£1.28b).
The third largest share in Uber is that of Tiger Global Management LLC who owns 27,681,399 shares, representing 1.569% ownership at a value of $1.41b (£1b).
Why are its UK drivers now being paid minimum wage?
On Wednesday 17 March, Uber sent out an email to its customers which confirmed: “Uber drivers in the UK will be paid holiday time, automatically enrolled into a pension plan, and guaranteed to earn at least the National Living Wage.
And added: “Drivers are an essential part of our everyday lives and we are proud to be making these changes to how they earn with Uber.”
The move follows a lengthy legal battle over drivers’ statuses which resulted in a landmark supreme court ruling defining drivers as workers and not just contractors.
It prompted lawyers to say it meant drivers would be entitled to workers’ rights such as holiday pay and compensation for lost pay.
All drivers will receive holiday time based on 12.07% of their earnings, which will be paid out on a fortnightly basis, the company also confirmed.
The minimum wage is classed as the National Living Wage, which is currently £8.72 for workers aged 25 and over. This is going up to £8.91 in April for 23 and overs.
How have people responded to the supreme court ruling?
Former Uber driver James Farrar, who along with Yaseen Aslam originally brought claims against the firm, said workers should receive the minimum wage from when they log in - not just from when a trip is accepted.
He said: “This means about 40-50% of your working time is still not being paid or protected even though the law requires it does. If you go to work for Starbucks and no customers come into the shop should you still be paid, of course you should.
“Uber simply has to do this, this is not difficult to understand. Waiting is working. This is a step in the right direction but we are not there yet.”
GMB union’s national officer Mick Rix said: “Uber’s announcement should mark the end of the road for bogus self-employment.
“GMB’s battle with Uber now opens the door for workers, and their unions, to win the fight for better pay and conditions at companies across the gig economy.”
Jamie Heywood, regional general manager for Northern Europe at Uber, said: “Uber is just one part of a larger private-hire industry, so we hope that all other operators will join us in improving the quality of work for these important workers who are an essential part of our everyday lives.
“Drivers have consistently told us that they wanted both the flexibility that we provided but also they wanted the benefits and we've been struggling to find a way of bringing those two together in a way that work for us and work for drivers.”