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Photo: Matthew Horwood via Getty Images

Uber announced on Tuesday it will reclassify over 70,000 drivers across the United Kingdom as workers who will receive benefits including a minimum wage, vacation pay and access to pension plans, effective Wednesday,

Why it matters: It's the first time the ride-hailing giant has agreed to classify its drivers accordingly, and it follows a landmark ruling from Britain's Supreme Court last month that said Uber drivers are entitled to greater protections.

  • Treating gig companies' workers as employees presents an existential threat to the firms' business models, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva writes.
  • "The changes are limited to the U.K.," Bloomberg writes, "but raise questions about whether management is willing to consider adapting its business model in other countries."

Yes, but: British labor rules offer a "middle ground" between freelancers and full-time employees that doesn't exist in other countries, which makes it unclear whether Uber will back down on its position outside of Britain, the New York Times writes.

Details: Drivers will now receive minimum wage — 8.91 pounds, or roughly $12.40, starting April 1 — between the time they accept a ride request and a passenger's drop-off. That does not apply to the period when the driver is waiting for a request.

  • The minimum wage is the floor, so at a minimum drivers will earn those amounts — but can and likely will earn more.
  • Uber will pay drivers on vacation 12% of their earnings, a value that is set by the government.

What they're saying: The Supreme Court decision "provides a clearer path forward as to a model that gives drivers the rights of worker status — while continuing to let them work flexibly, in the same way they have been since Uber’s launch in the U.K. in 2012," Uber said in a statement to NYT.

The big picture: London is one of Uber's five biggest markets globally, with Britain accounting for roughly 6.4% of the company's total gross bookings, per NYT.

  • More labor battles are expected across the European Union, where policymakers are looking at stricter labor regulations for gig-economy companies, the Times writes.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

500 Hong Kong police officers raid pro-democracy newspaper

Chief Operations Officer Chow Tat Kuen (front 2nd R) is escorted by police from the Apple Daily newspaper offices before being put into a waiting vehicle in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong's Apple Daily said 500 police officers searched the pro-democracy newspaper's offices and arrested five senior executives on Thursday.

Why it matters: The arrests of the paper's chief editor, Ryan Law, along with its chief operating officer, two other editors and the CEO of Next Digital, which operates Apple Daily, were made under China's national security law — which gives the government broad power to limit people's political freedom.

World Bank rejects El Salvador's request to help implement bitcoin

President Nayib Bukele, giving a speech in El Salvador's legislative assembly in San Salvado earlier this month, pushed for bitcoin to become legal tender. Photo: Emerson Flores/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images

The World Bank has rejected the government of El Salvador's request to help the country implement Bitcoin as legal tender, Reuters first reported late Wednesday.

Why it matters: The international lender's rejection could hamper the government's goal of making the digital currency accepted across the country within three months.

Updated 6 hours ago - Science

China launches first astronauts to new space station

The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday morning Beijing time. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Shenzhou 12 mission carrying three astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning Beijing time.

Why it matters: Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo are set to occupy China's new space station. This will be the country's longest crewed space mission ever and the first in almost five years.