A recent decision from the California Labour Commission
(the Commission) has held that drivers from the popular Uber
service are employees and not independent contractors. This
decision has sparked public interest as its implications could
bring trouble for the successful mobile-based start-up.
In coming down on the side of the drivers, the Commission
concluded that the employer was involved in "every aspect of the operation" of
the ride hauling service. Uber, however, has appealed the decision
emphasizing the significant degree of driver autonomy as the basis for their
operations and stating that "the number one reason
drivers choose to use Uber is because they have complete
flexibility and control".
Will this impact Uber's Canadian operations? Obviously,
California's law and decisions aren't applicable in Canada
and the criteria by which they determine a person to be an employee
or independent contractor are different. However, it could be the
embolden Canadian Uber drivers to do the same.
Disputes over employee status are common in Canada and the US.
Across the US, states have made contradictory
ruling on the classification of drivers as employees or independent
Will this have an impact on Canada? Uber is already under
"attack" in a number of
Canadian cities. Time will tell if Canadian drivers launch a
similar salvo as their Californian counterparts.
This article was written with the assistance of Nicole
Buchanan, summer student.
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
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