Recently, Courts in the United States and the United Kingdom
have received claims from Uber drivers in excess of millions of
dollars, for unpaid wages and other entitlements. At the core of
the drivers' claims against Uber is that they were paid as
contractors, not employees. Under Australian Law, employees are
entitled to receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and
superannuation) where as contractors are generally not. Whether a
member of staff is an employee or contractor is a question of law.
By simply calling a member of staff a contractor (innocently or
deliberately to avoid having to pay those entitlements) does not
mean that the staff member will be considered by the Courts (and
other Government departments such as the Australian Tax Office) as
such. The penalties for treating a member of staff as a contractor
when they are really an employee can be severe, and in some cases
can cripple a business.
If you are concerned that:
Your business may have been treating employees as contractors;
A contractor has made a claim (or will try to make a claim)
against your business for unpaid entitlements where you genuinely
believe that that person is a contractor and not an employee,
it is essential that you seek professional legal advice from a
lawyer immediately. Uber could have avoided the stress, cost and
embarrassment of the litigation if they had sought such advice
before hiring their drivers!
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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