Uber will be reclassifying all of its 70,000 UK drivers as workers, Bloomberg reported. This means Uber drivers will get minimum wage, vacation pay, and other benefits. The move follows a growing push for gig worker rights around the world – including in Malaysia, where they still lack legal rights.
Uber’s move, which is currently restricted to the UK, was prodded by an unanimous labour-friendly ruling by the country’s highest court last month. The e-hailing pioneer said it would base minimum wage payment on time after drivers accept trip requests via the app.
This still falls short of what some drivers are demanding – that minimum wage is paid from the moment they log into the app until they log off. And drivers won’t enjoy the full rights of employees, who exist in a separate legal category and are entitled to rights like severance pay.
Regardless, the UK court ruling and Uber’s response remain significant, raising questions of when gig workers in Malaysia will receive similar protections and benefits.
As The Star noted, Malaysian gig workers currently aren’t recognised as employees by law – so things like minimum wage, working hours limitations, paid annual and sick leave, and unfair dismissal does not apply to them.
In fact, Grab’s Terms of Service took pains to emphasise that drivers aren’t employees of the company, but “third party providers” that the company connects to users.
So gig workers like e-hailing drivers are presently in a sort of legal limbo in Malaysia. Because they don’t fit the standard definitions of an employee, they’re also unlikely to find relief in our labour courts if they have a complaint.
The government has been mulling new laws to fix this situation, but nothing has materialised thus far.