Are Uber Drivers Independent Contractors or Employees?
The ride-sharing app Uber has repeatedly been in litigation over whether drivers are considered to be independent contractors or employees. This is because the company has been trying to list their drivers as independent contractors; meaning they don’t have to offer them benefits, or have to pay them a certain way or guarantee certain rights. It also prevents them from being able to unionize.
When we get these kinds of questions at Tand & Associates, we know it comes down to the control of the person’s schedule. You can call the person an independent contractor or whatever you want, but if you’re dictating their schedule or stopping them from taking jobs elsewhere because they’re expected to produce a certain amount of work each week – meaning they’re not free to take other jobs at will – they’re an employee.
Employers Are Still Liable for Independent Contractors
Employees are entitled to certain benefits such as healthcare and other rights dependent on your state. What we see a lot of times is employers trying to weasel out of liability on certain things by calling people independent contractors. The problem with this is that even if you discriminate against an independent contractor, you’re still liable.
In Uber’s case where they are controlling drivers’ schedules by taking a commission, restricting them from working for other ride-sharing apps, stuff like that where a driver can pretty much only work for Uber, those drivers are employees (regardless of what Uber says).
Just because someone makes their own schedule doesn’t mean they don’t have to meet certain quotas. For example, with the way Uber’s revenue percentages are set up, drivers have to work a certain number of hours in order to turn a profit. If putting in those hours prevents them from taking on other work, they would be considered employees in the eyes of the law.
Business owners just need to understand that in order to call someone an independent contractor, you can’t control their schedule in any way. If they work with you, they’ve got to be free to work with other people, too. That’s really the gist of it.
It’s important to know your rights with every job you take on, whether it’s as an independent contractor or as a traditional employee. If you drive for Uber or think you may be being taken advantage of in your work situation and want to know more about your rights, give us a call.
Jonathan A. Tand
Tand & Associates
1025 Old Country Road, Suite 320
Westbury, NY 11590