Uber attempts to be free of employee responsibility


Ride-hailing company Uber is reportedly trying to establish a new category to exonerate itself of any responsibility for its employees

New research by the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmum University (RSM) showed that the new category, ‘independent workers’, would mean Uber will not have responsibility to provide social security, protection and reasonable pay to its employees.

Uber has used the immeasurability of work hours to justify the independent workers category. It argued that workers can have multiple apps running simultaneously making it hard to attribute hours to a single employer.

However, the RSM research showed that Uber actively controls its drivers, even during ‘idle’ time, as they are expected to accept a ride within 15 seconds without knowing the exact location or fee or face a risk of being fired.

Dr. Magdalena Cholakova said the reasoning behind the new category was logically flawed and dishonest and could have a negative effect on society.

She said: “The new proposed category undermines the post-war established ideal of an employment relationship with support and protections being provided to workers.

“We believe that if this new category becomes institutionalised in jurisdictions around the world, it will not only directly harm individual workers, but instigate across the labour market a new precariat class of workers who have no job security, poor pay, and whose material and psychological welfare is seriously compromised.”

Research co-author Professor Joep Cornelissen added: “These broader developments in the economy should be more than enough encouragement for everyone, including policy makers, legislators and researchers, to become involved in defining the appropriate organisational and employment categories for Uber and other sharing economy companies.”

The research was conducted by Professor Magdalena Cholakova and Professor Joep Cornelissen in December 2019.

Further reading:

Uber loses landmark gig economy ruling

Hermes to offer drivers ‘self-employed-plus’ status

Could gig economy deals halt the trade union’s demise?

Pimlico Plumbers and the gig economy dispute