In what is likely to become a test case of the legality of gig economy employment arrangements, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has confirmed that they are investigating whether or not Uber complies with the relevant Australian workplace laws or are engaged in sham contracting.
A group of Uber drivers called Ride Share Drivers United (RSDU) approached the FWO in early June saying that they believed they should be classified as casual workers and paid accordingly.
The group distinguished themselves from genuine independent contractors on the basis that they:
- did not have control over or the ability to grow their business;
- were unable to directly negotiate prices with customers;
- were not permitted to ask a customer’s destination before driving to the pick-up point;
- did not have the right to pick up rides when hailed on the street;
- did not issue invoices; and
- were not permitted to scrutinise the Uber booking system.
Uber maintains that its drivers are “driver partners” rather than employees who utilise the Uber platform but “are their own boss and have the autonomy and flexibility to drive and when it suits them”.