Uber is a company that has changed the fact of transportation all over the world, and following its IPO, the ride-hailing company is bigger than ever. However, one of the issues that have dogged the company for many years is the condition of the actual drivers who drive the cars affiliated to Uber. Over the years, drivers and activists have argued that Uber drivers should be treated as employees and provided with benefits that any full-time employee receives. There had been demands for minimum wage, sick leaves, and other benefits; however, the company has maintained that they are independent contractors. In a landmark development, the regulatory authority in Australia for labor issues known as the Fair Work Ombudsman has ruled that Uber drivers are not employees.
Effectively, the regulator was in agreement with the company’s stand. There had been allegations that Uber had engaged in what is charitably called ‘sham contracting’ and after an investigation that spanned a period of two years, the Fair Work Ombudsman came up with its verdict. The crux of the investigation lay in determining whether Uber was representing its drivers as contractors to avoid paying millions in benefits. However, the regulator came to the conclusion that the relationship between the ride-sharing behemoth and its drivers is not an ‘employment relationship. The report stated,
For such a relationship to exist, the courts have determined that there must be, at a minimum, an obligation for an employee to perform work when it is demanded by the employer.
Considering the fact that a Uber driver can refuse to drive his car for days without being hauled up, it is certainly a sound argument from the Australian regulatory body.
The regulator stated that it had done an extensive investigation into the whole affair and gone through evidence meticulously to arrive at its judgment. The evidence included the login and logout times of drivers, in addition to the actual contracts that are signed by the driver. In its report, the regulator added, “Uber Australia does not require drivers to perform work at particular times, and this was a key factor in our assessment that the commercial arrangement between the company and the drivers does not amount to an employment relationship.