Trailer Magazine

Ombudsman determines Uber drivers are not employees

  • Posted on Friday 7th, June 2019.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has finalised its investigation relating to Uber Australia and its engagement of drivers.

Fair Work Ombudsman, Sandra Parker, said the inspectors examined a wide range of evidence, including drivers’ contracts, log on and log off records, interviews with drivers and Uber Australia, ABN documents, payment statements, banking records and pricing schedules.

“The weight of evidence from our investigation establishes that the relationship between Uber Australia and the drivers is not an employment relationship,” said Parker

“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.

“Our investigation found that Uber Australia drivers are not subject to any formal or operational obligation to perform work.” she said – explaining that Uber Australia drivers have control over when, where and how long they perform their work on any given day or week.

“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,” she said. “As a consequence, the Fair Work Ombudsman will not take compliance action in relation to this matter. This investigation related solely to Uber Australia and was not an investigation of the gig economy more generally.”

Companies in the gig economy use a range of business models and the Fair Work Ombudsman will continue to assess allegations of non-compliance on a case-by-case basis.

In response to today’s announcement, the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has called on the Federal Government to enact urgent legislation to ensure workers in the gig economy are given rights and protections against exploitation.

TWU National Secretary, Michael Kaine, said the Federal Government must move urgently – workers must be given rights regardless of their definition under the law.

“The evidence shows that Uber workers are being abused: the pay is well below minimum rates, there is no right to negotiate the continual decreasing rates, there is little support when drivers are forced to take time off when they are sick or injured and superannuation is non-existent,” he said. “Will Scott Morrison and his team with their new mandate to govern chose to stand up for workers in Australia or will they side with a billion-dollar backed bully?”

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