Uber Drivers Are Entitled to Worker Benefits, a British Court Rules

Uber suffered a major defeat in one of its most important markets on Friday when Britain’s Supreme Court, in a ruling that could threaten the future of the already unprofitable company, said a group of drivers should be classified as workers entitled to a minimum wage and vacation time.

The court’s decision, the latest in a string of confrontations between labor groups and so-called gig economy companies in courtrooms and legislative halls around the world, poses an existential threat to Uber and other companies that rely on a sprawling labor force of independent contractors to provide car rides, deliver food and clean homes.

The Supreme Court justices ruled unanimously that although Uber said it was only a technology platform that connected drivers with passengers, it behaved more like an employer by setting rates, assigning rides, requiring drivers to follow certain routes and using a rating system to discipline them.