Resources: Blog

FWO investigation finds Uber drivers not employees

Blog
|

Tripping Out

Since it arrived in Australia, Uber has been under fire for its disruption of the transport industry and its complicated relationship with its drivers.

Since it arrived in Australia, Uber has been under fire for its disruption of the transport industry and its complicated relationship with its drivers.

At present, Uber is facing a class action law suit from taxi and hire car drivers in Australia, as well as an enquiry into the working conditions of on-demand workers by the Victorian Government. Globally, drivers have protested seeking fairness in pay and better safety conditions.

Of all the issues faced by Uber, one of the most persistent has been the employment status of its drivers – are they Uber employees or independent contractors working for themselves?

The issue has been the subject of debate both internationally and here in Australia.

In the Fair Work Commission (FWC), several Uber drivers have brought unfair dismissal applications alleging that they were employees of Uber and were unfairly dismissed when their access to the driver app (through which they can accept driving jobs) was switched off.

The FWC has found that those Uber drivers were not employees able to access the unfair dismissal jurisdiction.

Despite these findings, commentary about the status of Uber drivers continued with ongoing calls for the office of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to intervene. This resulted in the FWO conducting an investigation into Uber’s arrangements with its drivers.

That investigation was recently concluded with the FWO finding that the relationship between Uber and drivers was not an employment relationship.

The FWO released a statement confirming the outcome of its investigation and advising that it had examined a wide range of evidence, including driver contracts, log on/off records, as well as interviews with drivers and Uber Australia, ABN documents, payment statements, banking records and pricing schedules.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that key to any employment relationship is the obligation to perform work and that this obligation was absent in Uber’s arrangements with drivers. Ms Parker said drivers are not required to perform work at a particular time but rather, they have control over whether, when and for how long they work on any given day or week.

As a consequence of its findings, the FWO has announced that it will not take compliance action in relation to Uber’s arrangements with its drivers.

This finding will likely put to rest the calls for the FWO to intervene in Uber’s dealings with drivers but the FWO has noted that its findings relate specifically to Uber and not to the gig-economy more generally.

The FWO confirmed that it will continue to assess allegations of non-compliance with workplace laws in the gig-economy on a case-by-case basis.

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Similar articles

Commission orders employer to pay compensation as a result of its procedurally unfair disciplinary process

Procedurally disastrous

When investigating allegations of misconduct against an employee in the workplace, employers must ensure that any ensuing disciplinary process is kept distinct from and separate to from the investigation.

Read more...

Changes to the Fair Work Act and Sex Discrimination Act to commence shortly

NEWS UPDATE

On 2 September 2021, the Federal Parliament passed the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 (the Bill).

Read more...

Commission rejects constructive dismissal claim after finding performance review process did not force employee to resign

Full force denied

For an employee to access the unfair dismissal jurisdiction, they must be “dismissed” from their employment by the employer. In some instances, a resignation can be a “dismissal”, when an employee is forced to resign due to the employer’s conduct. This is referred to as a “constructive dismissal”.

Read more...

Commission orders employer to pay compensation as a result of its procedurally unfair disciplinary process

Procedurally disastrous

When investigating allegations of misconduct against an employee in the workplace, employers must ensure that any ensuing disciplinary process is kept distinct from and separate to from the investigation.

Read more...

The importance of WHS refresher training

Not a “one and done” thing

It is an expected and necessary part of work health and safety (WHS) plans that all new workers receive relevant WHS training.

Read more...

Casual Terms Award Review 2021

NEWS UPDATE

In March 2021, the casual employment amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) introduced a new statutory definition of “casual employee” and an entitlement to casual conversion as one of the National Employment Standards (NES).

Read more...

Let's talk

please contact our directors to discuss how ouR expertise can help your business.

We're here to help

Contact Us
Let Workplace Law become your partner in Workplace Relations.

Signup to receive the latest industry updates with commentary from the Workplace Law team direct to you inbox.