News National Fair Work Ombudsman: Uber drivers not employees

Fair Work Ombudsman: Uber drivers not employees

London's Uber ban has sparked concerns over safety in Australia. Photo: Getty
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The Fair Work Ombudsman has ruled ride-sharing company Uber does not have a traditional employment relationship with its drivers.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said in a statement on Friday Uber drivers were not subject to any “formal or operational obligation” to work, deeming them independent contractors.

“Uber Australia drivers have control over whether, when, and for how long they perform work, on any given day or on any given week,” she said.

The decision follows a two-year investigation into how Uber and its drivers interacted on a workplace basis.

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

“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.”

The fact that Uber drivers have control over when, where and for how long they work was a key factor in the ombudsman’s decision.

“Our investigation found that Uber Australia drivers are not subject to any formal or operational obligation to perform work,” Ms Parker said

Evidence examined as part of the investigation included drivers’ contracts, log on and log off records, interviews with drivers, ABN documents, payment statements and pricing schedules.

The FWO said companies in the gig economy used a range of business models and they will continue to assess allegations of “non-compliance on a case-by-case basis”.

The latest determination comes as Uber drivers across the global launched strikes throughout the past three months protesting at the high commission rates Uber charged and inadequate pay.

Frustration among Uber drivers increased after the company decided to raise the amount of money it took from driver profit.

Commission rates started at 21 per cent but Uber increased that figure 28 cents from every dollar earned, leaving drivers to still pay for navigation equipment, tolls, maintenance and petrol.

-with AAP