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Drivers for Uber, the increasingly popular app-based taxi service, are asking that the company reclassify them as employees. Drivers for Uber have filed a class action lawsuit against the company, claiming they should be entitled to the same benefits traditional employees would receive.

Are Uber Drivers Independent Contractors?

Since launching in 2011, Uber has classified its drivers as independent contractors. It performs limited background research on drivers and does not provide them with the benefits employees would receive.

In general, there are several differences between employees and independent contractors. Typically, when someone receives a steady paycheck and is on a company’s official payroll, they are considered an employee.

However, there are other factors to consider, including whether or not the worker uses his or her own equipment or tools for the job, whether or not the worker can choose to not work without fear of being terminated, and whether the worker controls his or her working hours.

Despite these guidelines, even the Supreme Court has struggled to define the exact difference between an independent contractor and an employee, and many believe that Uber’s organization could make it especially tough to make a determination.

Uber drivers use their own vehicles and choose when they are available to drive, which the company argues makes them independent contractors. According to the company, drivers enjoy “freedom and autonomy” by setting their own shifts and being able to work for other companies while working with Uber.

Many of the people driving for Uber believe that despite this flexibility, they should be considered employees because the company puts so many impositions on them.

Furthermore, they are graded on their performance and they can be fired based on the grades they earn.  Despite being called independent contractors, many of the drivers do not believe they actually enjoy the freedom, flexibility, or control of a true IC, and as such, they believe they are entitled to what a traditional employee would receive in compensation.

Uber Drivers Would Be Entitled to a Variety of Benefits as Employees

Uber drivers are requesting several different things related to their work with the company. Many of them want to be reimbursed for business expenses, including their vehicle insurance and maintenance.

Uber doesn’t currently allow drivers to accept tips, and drivers are requesting they be able to do so and retain the entirety of any tip they are given. Drivers are also requesting more transparency about the rating system and want to know more of the details about what goes into a driver’s deactivation in the system.

Though the requests of the company don’t specifically ask for it, being classified as employees would trigger a number of other “perks,” as well. They’d be affected by minimum wage and overtime laws, they’d receive Social Security matching, and they’d be eligible for workers’ compensation. Anti-discrimination laws would also apply.

Drivers who dedicated hours of their lives – often the equivalent of full-time hours or more – to their work would be treated fairly, just as any other employee would be treated by a company.

Uber’s Future Has Far-Reaching Effects

As more and more options arise for consumers to use app-based delivery services, the future of Uber will have an effect on a number of newer businesses.

Its competitor, Lyft, is watching closely to see what happens with Uber drivers. So are similar delivery companies, including Instacart, GrubHub, DoorDash, and cleaning and maintenance services, including Homejoy and Handy. Some of these companies are even dealing with the legal action of their own.

One class action settlement, which many believed favored Uber over its drivers, has already been rejected. The arrangement would have affected drivers in Massachusetts and California, but the judge did not believe it was “fair, adequate, and reasonable.”

As of now, the future is uncertain for Uber and it’s drivers.

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