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Highest French court reclassifies Uber drivers as employees (courdecassation.fr)
786 points by Aissen 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 588 comments



> The criteria for self-employment include the possibility of building up one's own clientele, the freedom to set one's own rates, and the freedom to set the terms and conditions for providing one's services.

Immediately I'd seem to agree with this statement. I think of typical self-employment businesses; hairdressers, freelance developers, etc and this seems to apply. You can set your own rate and your own terms, even if those may kill your chance at being competitive.

But if you think deeper into this, then this criteria isn't always true.

Here's a scenario: I publish an ad on a handyman site asking for a new shed built for £100. People can place their interest and their proposal. The price is fixed at £100, and I may set other terms and criteria. Nobody is going to argue that the builders are employees of the exchange site. Uber isn't entirely different (it just simplifies the process). Its drivers are allowed to deny a ride, and can see the cost upfront.

Really the difference in these types of self-employment seems to be that the customer approached a set of potential suppliers, rather than vice versa, and the customer set the terms and the self-employed get to accept/deny. In the typical scenario (hairdressers, etc) they set the terms to potential customers who get to accept/deny.

I don't agree or disagree with the classification of Uber drivers as employees, I just don't agree with the criteria of the court in this case.


In your shed example, a builder could contact you and negotiate the price (perhaps the $100 price you set is completely unrealistic). That's not possible with Uber - there is no price negotiation - only declining/accepting a ride.

Similar argument for changing toppings on a cake - a caterer can negotiate changes to the cake - an Uber driver has no such flexibility.

Regardless, given corporate (human?) nature is to leverage any power differential to self-benefit, it seems reasonable that regulations be interpreted in the most protective (of the party with less power) manner possible.


I think the strongest argument against this point of view is that the drivers can opt to work for multiple car services to get a handle on their price structures. It's certainly possible for a traditional employer to allow that arrangement, but you have to admit it is an uncommon thing.

It's much more analogous to a contractor working for a general contractor -- if I'm a plumber I can take gigs from multiple general contractors, and my ability to negotiate with the customer directly is very limited; instead I'm usually left negotiating with the general contractor, often just with a take it or leave it price. The general contractor is not the employer in this case.


If target allowed you also work for Walmart that wouldn't transform their employees into contractors.


Target pays workers hourly wages. It would be quite something if they allowed you to work at Walmart during the hours you're being paid an hourly wage by Target.


Well one can't simultaneously drive a passenger obtained via Uber, and a passenger obtained via Lyft either.


Neither can a contractor build a gazebo for one client at the same time as they're building a gazebo for a different client. But there is a difference between getting paid for hours and getting paid for tasks.


Your analogy is not very good. General contractors take bids, they don't set the price, they take the best offer for them. And as a sub contractor or GC you can have as many jobs open as you want. I see no similarities between uber driving and sub contracting, aside from both being task based. Contractors get to set their rate, is built into the bid process drivers don't.


Rideshare drivers are paid by the task, but that task is time-bound. Building a shed isn't. You can take on two shed contracts simultaneously, not so as a rideshare driver.


> Rideshare drivers are paid by the task, but that task is time-bound. Building a shed isn't.

Why not? You could take a contract to build a shed by the end of the day and then not have time to build any others that day.


You are not forced to make de shed.


if it's a shared car, you could pick up customers from multiple apps on the same trip?


no


Waiting for a ride with both apps turned on is actually pretty common.


Drivers aren't paid while they're waiting though, right? It seems to me like this is just holding two separate jobs of the same type (which I don't think is uncommon for the types of positions one might have at Target or Walmart), with the only difference being more flexibility of which hours to work.


It's not just which hours, it's also how many.

If you're a contractor hired to build a shed and it takes you 8 hours, you're there all day. But if you can build it in 2 hours, you get to go home, and you still get paid the same.

If you're a Target employee brought in to do inventory and it takes most people 8 hours but you finish in 2, you're only going home if you don't want to get paid for the other 6 hours. Otherwise you're going to be stocking shelves or sweeping floors or working a register until the clock runs out.

Driving works like the first one. If you can make a 45 minute drive take 42 minutes, you get to keep the other 3 minutes. (In theory if you can make a 45 minute drive take 15 minutes you get to keep the other 30 minutes, but good luck with that.)


Can't they? What happens if they're driving an Uber passenger and do pick up a Lyft passenger who happens to be on the same route?


In theory it's possible to, if you're doing pool rides


I’ve had drivers accept a ride on the other app while still driving me. So I’m a way they kinda can.


Worker protections exist to ensure that employers don't exploit their position of power to take advantage of their workers. Full stop. Obviously that doesn't apply to the plumber you hired to fix your toilet or the painters the company hired to paint the walls but anytime you have a continuing open ended relationship when you alone provide at least a substantial fraction of the employees total income I have to wonder how on earth the same protections don't apply.

The situations where a contractor relationship applies are plain and obvious. Any time you have to ask if someone is an employee you are probably exploiting the fine line to avoid having to follow the law. Kind of like if you have to ask if you are actually committing fraud you probably are. Depending on which side of the fine line a judge comes down on you may or may not be punished for it but you aren't a better person for it.


If people were taking home $100k driving for Uber I would accept this argument, since I wouldn't want to interrupt the good opportunity with regulations.

As it is, I see the preponderance of arguments on the side of it being regular employment without the expected benefits.

For what it's worth every Uber ride I've taken I would have taken at double the price, it's possible they could afford to pay their full time drivers benefits.


> As it is, I see the preponderance of arguments on the side of it being regular employment without the expected benefits.

Let's evaluate this for a moment.

Suppose the people driving for Uber could get a job somewhere else as an employee. In this case they willingly chose the driving job with e.g. more flexible hours over the other job with employment status, so why are we second guessing their choice and trying to take it away?

Now suppose the other job isn't available to them. Job prospects for unskilled workers are pretty bad, so it's either Uber or unemployment. Then it's the same thing -- they'd rather drive for Uber as a contractor than be unemployed, so why should we take that option away from them?

The theory behind forcing them to be employees is that it's "better" for them. If they're employees they get employee benefits. But then they can't work part time anymore, because if the company is going to pay full time benefits then they're going to want full time hours. Flexible hours go away too, because if they're forced to pay benefits they can use them to attract people who don't need flexible hours and no longer have to accommodate people who do.

Then the benefits cost money, but the company's margins are pretty thin so the only place to get the money is by making rides more expensive. That hurts all the working class people who have to pay more for rides, but it also lowers demand for rides. Lower demand, fewer drivers.

So a lot of the existing drivers, and specifically the most vulnerable of them who can't find another job or need the flexible schedule, lose their jobs.

They might be better off if we don't "help" them like this.


One of the issues here is about Uber getting away with paying the same type of taxes than other businesses, which creates an unfair situations with other companies & a race to the bottom for workers rights.


"Workers rights" are things like the right not to be refused a job because you're a woman. I don't think anybody is accusing Uber of doing this, nor would doing it give anyone any apparent competitive advantage in modern markets.

Classifying things like unemployment insurance under that banner is silly, because anybody who wants it can go buy it with money, so it makes no sense to require it rather than letting workers and companies negotiate over whether they'd rather have that or some other thing like higher pay. Every company has to convince their workers to work there and not somewhere else, so everything like that which they don't provide requires them to provide something else instead.

Imposing those requirements hurt workers by taking their options away -- somebody who knows they're only going to be a driver for four years as they work their way through college may very well be better off to have the money that would otherwise be paid to the insurance carrier than to have the unemployment insurance, which they'll not use anyway because Uber doesn't do "layoffs" of contractors and it's very unlikely demand for rides is going to disappear in the next four years.


great point


Sounds like a bug with the tax law to me. Maybe there should be a services tax which is used to fund benefits, or something of that nature? Not a fully considered suggestion, just pointing out that this isn't obviously a fault with uber rather than the way taxes are structured.


> Suppose the people driving for Uber could get a job somewhere else as an employee. In this case they willingly chose the driving job with e.g. more flexible hours over the other job with employment status, so why are we second guessing their choice and trying to take it away?

Who's taking it away, though? There's no law that a company can't offer employees flexible hours, and nobody's arguing that there should be. If Uber decides employee drivers can't have flexible hours, then that's on them. This argument is a non-sequitor with regard to employee/contractor status.

> Now suppose the other job isn't available to them. Job prospects for unskilled workers are pretty bad, so it's either Uber or unemployment. Then it's the same thing -- they'd rather drive for Uber as a contractor than be unemployed, so why should we take that option away from them?

Is it "Uber or unemployment", though? Are unskilled workers without a car just completely screwed? No, because those aren't the only two choices. Do you know of an actual case where a person has had no other choices than Uber and unemployment? It's a red herring.

> The theory behind forcing them to be employees is that it's "better" for them.

I can't speak to France, but in the United States the difference has a lot more to do with taxes and social security than it does with any immediate, direct benefits to the employee.

> If they're employees they get employee benefits. But then they can't work part time anymore, because if the company is going to pay full time benefits then they're going to want full time hours. Flexible hours go away too, because if they're forced to pay benefits they can use them to attract people who don't need flexible hours and no longer have to accommodate people who do.

Again, I don't know about France, but in the United States "employee benefits" have almost nothing to do with employee/contractor status. No company is required to provide any benefits other than wages. If Uber decides employee drivers don't get flexible hours, that's on them, not the law.

> Then the benefits cost money, but the company's margins are pretty thin so the only place to get the money is by making rides more expensive. That hurts all the working class people who have to pay more for rides, but it also lowers demand for rides. Lower demand, fewer drivers.

In the United States, the "benefits" are things like unemployment insurance, social security, income tax, and things like that, which the drivers should already be paying for themselves. In theory this is already coming out of the driver's earnings, so having the company pay it instead shouldn't make a difference to the end user's price.


> There's no law that a company can't offer employees flexible hours, and nobody's arguing that there should be. If Uber decides employee drivers can't have flexible hours, then that's on them. This argument is a non-sequitor with regard to employee/contractor status.

The flexible hours come in exchange for contractor status. If they paid employee benefits they could attract employees who don't need flexible hours. Which means if you force them to pay employee benefits either way, they take those workers instead of the ones who need flexible hours and the ones who need flexible hours are out of work.

> Is it "Uber or unemployment", though? Are unskilled workers without a car just completely screwed? No, because those aren't the only two choices. Do you know of an actual case where a person has had no other choices than Uber and unemployment? It's a red herring.

It's one of the two possibilities. The other is that they had the option of working for someone else as an employee but willingly chose Uber, e.g. because of flexible hours. Or maybe they like driving a car better than cleaning toilets. Whatever the reason, you're taking away that option.

> I can't speak to France, but in the United States the difference has a lot more to do with taxes and social security than it does with any immediate, direct benefits to the employee.

In the US the employee and employer each pay half of social security. Contractors are "self-employed" so they pay both halves. But everybody knows this, so you have to pay a contractor that much more (or provide some other valuable consideration like flexible hours) to get them to work for you instead of somewhere they're an employee. If you make Uber drivers employees, more people want the job and by supply and demand the wages go down.

> Again, I don't know about France, but in the United States "employee benefits" have almost nothing to do with employee/contractor status.

There are a bunch of rules and incentives with respect to employer-provided health insurance, unemployment insurance etc. that apply to employees and not contractors. If there was no difference then why would anybody care about how the drivers are classified?

In general you could expect a reclassification to negatively impact everyone involved, because being an employee involves a lot more paperwork and bureaucracy but the value in any advantage from it should then get reflected in correspondingly lower compensation (or loss of employment if that level of compensation falls below minimum wage).


> The flexible hours come in exchange for contractor status.

You keep saying that, but there's nothing backing it up. Contractors typically have more flexible hours, but companies are free to allow flexible hours if they want to. If the drivers were employees, it would be Uber's choice to give them flexible hours or not.

> If they paid employee benefits they could attract employees who don't need flexible hours. Which means if you force them to pay employee benefits either way, they take those workers instead of the ones who need flexible hours and the ones who need flexible hours are out of work.

That's all speculation, though. Maybe the displaced employees will start an Uber competitor that does give flexible hours, beat out Uber, and become the next unicorns. It could be the best thing that ever happens to them...

Really, it's a wash. One group loses a specific job option because they need flexible hours and Uber (supposedly) won't allow it , and another group gains that option because they need regularity.

> There are a bunch of rules and incentives with respect to employer-provided health insurance, unemployment insurance etc. that apply to employees and not contractors. If there was no difference then why would anybody care about how the drivers are classified?

Who is paying for the driver's insurance right now, though? If each driver pays for their own then they'll collectively save a ton of money on a corporate group plan. Employees working under 30 hours a week aren't even required to get employer provided insurance, though, so there may not be a change for people taking advantage of those flexible hours...

> In general you could expect a reclassification to negatively impact everyone involved, because being an employee involves a lot more paperwork and bureaucracy but the value in any advantage from it should then get reflected in correspondingly lower compensation (or loss of employment if that level of compensation falls below minimum wage).

There's not more paperwork and bureaucracy - the existing paperwork and bureaucracy is just concentrated into Uber's HR and finance departments, instead of being done by thousands of drivers.


> You keep saying that, but there's nothing backing it up. Contractors typically have more flexible hours, but companies are free to allow flexible hours if they want to. If the drivers were employees, it would be Uber's choice to give them flexible hours or not.

The reason they give them flexible hours is in exchange for not having to do the things that come with classifying them as employees. It's what allows them to attract drivers even when they're classified as contractors. If they paid benefits then they could attract drivers without offering flexible hours -- but that doesn't help the drivers who need flexible hours and not benefits.

Not only that, they would be less able to offer flexible hours. When they're hiring contractors, they don't have to care what hours people want to work. If you're an employee, 30 hours is not an option, because if you're working enough to require benefits then they're going to want to make the most of it by having you work 40 hours. But 60 hours is out too, because as an employee you're not going to be approved for overtime. Choosing your own schedule is also out, because for contractors they'll take anyone at any time they're willing to work, but if they're paying benefits and need you to work a specific number of hours a week then they'll want to schedule those hours at times that maximize the number of rides rather than whenever is easiest for you.

Saying that they could still allow flexible hours in a theoretical sense doesn't help anybody when reclassification as employees gives them all these incentives not to.

> That's all speculation, though. Maybe the displaced employees will start an Uber competitor that does give flexible hours, beat out Uber, and become the next unicorns. It could be the best thing that ever happens to them...

Maybe they'll win the lottery five times in a row and then get elected President of the United States. That's speculation.

It's not speculation to say that if Uber pays benefits, it makes it easier for them to attract employees, which allows them to do other things that are less attractive to employees and still find workers. The thing they choose to claw back may be the flexible hours or it may be something else, but it'll be something the drivers currently have which Uber will no longer have to offer because their job would be competitive without it if they paid benefits.

> Really, it's a wash. One group loses a specific job option because they need flexible hours and Uber (supposedly) won't allow it , and another group gains that option because they need regularity.

Work with flexible hours is a lot more scarce than shift work, so making it unavailable in exchange for much more common shift work is not a wash. It's a huge problem for people who need flexible hours.

Also, regularity is a subset of flexible hours. If you want to work 9-5, a job with flexible hours allows that. So you're not adding an option, you're only taking one off the table which was hard to find to begin with.

> Who is paying for the driver's insurance right now, though? If each driver pays for their own then they'll collectively save a ton of money on a corporate group plan.

For a normal corporate group plan, maybe, but think about the context here. You have a group which is inherently at high risk of medical bills due to car accidents. Then this is a job where they accept anyone with a valid driver's license. First thing that happens to that corporate group plan is that everyone without health insurance who gets diagnosed with cancer or cardiovascular disease or diabetes signs up as a driver and uses the "new job" condition to immediately take the insurance.

That group plan would cost more than what you could get on the exchanges.

> Employees working under 30 hours a week aren't even required to get employer provided insurance, though, so there may not be a change for people taking advantage of those flexible hours...

The people taking advantage of flexible hours aren't necessarily the people working less than 30 hours. If you want to work 5 hours while your kids are at school at 2 hours after they go to bed, you'll have a hard time negotiating that schedule at Target, but it's still 35 hours a week.

The people who work under 30 hours may not see much of a difference, but "this change may have no real effect on a particular subgroup of people" is not actually an argument that it is benefiting them.

> There's not more paperwork and bureaucracy - the existing paperwork and bureaucracy is just concentrated into Uber's HR and finance departments, instead of being done by thousands of drivers.

In other words, there is more paperwork and bureaucracy. Because there are still thousands of drivers, but now there is an extraneous middle man between the drivers and their insurance carrier, making choices on their behalf that they might not prefer and processing paperwork that the insurance carrier will only have to process again.


>For what it's worth every Uber ride I've taken I would have taken at double the price

I would have taken a ride at double the price. But, for example, on the rare occasions I've used a ride-share from my house to the airport for personal travel, it's purely been because of price. Were it double the price, I'd just book a private car like I do for business travel.


> If people were taking home $100k driving for Uber I would accept this argument, since I wouldn't want to interrupt the good opportunity with regulations.

So only rich people should have opportunities?


How did you get that conclusion? What he is saying if there were advantages over normal employment, it would be more palatable


Evidently, there are enough advantages for people to voluntarily take on those jobs.

And 'normal employment' means 'unemployment' for a lot of people in France these years.

France should encourage more companies to enter and contest the market that Uber is in.

See https://www.idiosyncraticwhisk.com/2019/05/uber-and-wages-in... for how when Uber and eg Lyft are both operating in the same market, the result is almost a textbook case of perfect competition.


That building contractor can generally set hours, sub out the work, etc. Pricing negotiation is only one of several tests to determine whether or not a worker is an employee or contractor.


Now they will probably lock a driver to their service and then a new fight will ensue when courts try to rule that is not allowed and find a new class to these drivers in.


My prediction is that this backlash won't happen. At least not in France.


Imagine ride-sharing companies bidding for different drivers in real-time where drivers would set their minimum fare.


But do general contractors in your example punish plumbers if they are found to be working for multiple general contractors?


When does that happen? Almost every Uber/Lyft driver I've seen lately has both logos on their car...


This might depend on jurisdiction though. I too have seen cars with all kinds of stickers at the same time in some countries, and in others they are exclusively one or the other.


Whenever I've asked why a driver is only driving for one its usually for one of two reasons.

They don't know they can do both and went with what they believed to be the most popular. These are usually uber only drivers.

They had a bad experience with too many customers on one platform. These are usually Lyft drivers that are actually using the platform for the occasional side money instead of a full on job.


Why do the drivers usually have two different phones?


Ease-of-use, and iPhones don't have multi-use.


To have both HUD's on all the time?


Say John make a platform right now and set the rule that there's no negotiations permitted. Builders accepting the proposal must accept at the listed price. Obviously there remains a variation in the quality of the different proposals (some builders may be more polite, or use better wood). Obviously, the key difference here is that I would be able to choose what builder I want, but the customer on Uber doesn't get to decide that. So let's place one more restriction: the platform decides which builder gets the job behind the scenes.

Now, would you say that builder is employed by this website? If so, at what point did this turn from self-employment to employment?

> Similar argument for changing toppings on a cake - a caterer can negotiate changes to the cake - an Uber driver has no such flexibility.

If the customer wants a cake for wedding: vanilla with 3 layers and a cherry on top it seems a bit inappropriate to contact them saying "I can't make a vanilla cake but how about chocolate?"

It's a limitation of the platform (limitations made to improve customer experience - imagine if you had to negotiate for every taxi ride, you don't do this for local companies). I'd argue that the hypothetical platform described can set any number of limitations, as long as the builder can hop off and get his work elsewhere at any point.

Really, imo, the key here is how much control the Uber driver has to refuse tasks, and if they can seek the same work elsewhere (eg is Lyft available in the city?). You wouldn't tell your boss "eyy sorry chief, bit tired, gonna head home, give the fare to someone else, byeee!! hangs up" -- but you can on Uber.


I'd argue that in the builder-app, the builder has now been transformed into an employee, same as an Uber driver. To me, "setting prices" is more than just refusing/accepting prices set by an algorithm/app, but the ability to negotiate those independently.

In the cake example, a baker absolutely could attempt to negotiate for chocolate. They might not "win" the negotiation, but they have the option.

Edit - in the taxi driver (traditional taxi in US), I'd argue that most of them should be employees too. Sometimes they are employed directly by "Acme Cab" or whatever. But, in the case of the local airport taxi company (Washington Flyer), the company has a monopoly on airport transport, but drivers are independent contractors - this always struck me as a very lopsided and questionable arrangement. If a driver wants to pick up at Dulles, they have to contract for Wash Flyer at fixed rates, renting a company car, etc.

And I'll freely admit this all can be a bit ambiguous. And that I'm not a fan of the "gig economy" in general - I'm convinced corporations are using it to reduce wages and benefits and effectively foist the cost of those lower wages/benefits on society as a whole.


Sure, corporations are using it to reduce wages and benefits, etc. But gig economy is not really a new concept -- almost every tradecraft profession has a similar dynamic; as an electrician you are generally not paid by an employer, you instead go out and get work. This gives you the freedom to set your own hours and tune the amount of work that you take on to support your lifestyle.

I think the problem with a lot of these gig economy services is that they are often pumped by VC/PE money in an attempt to generate monopolies by over-capitalizing. If we got rid of that dynamic (which is a difficult problem) then this disappears. If there are a hundred different Ubers, operating in different cities, then gig workers are put in a better position to bargain by selecting a service to use.

The cost here is that the customer is inconvenienced; a single app with a single payment system seems like a better deal. But distributing this responsibility actually makes the overall system more robust and leads to interesting solutions throughout the stack, rather than converging on whatever terrible systems have been hard-coded by the over-capitalized market leaders.


- I'm convinced corporations are using it to reduce wages and benefits and effectively foist the cost of those lower wages/benefits on society as a whole.

The customer demand (customer being the drivers) tells a completely different story of people being more productive than legacy taxi systems by taking responsibility themselves.

I think a lean "gig economy" without the full load of bureaucracy is largely positive and really dislike how it is torn down here in Europe...


I would be more inclined to agree with you if there was clear evidence that people really understood all the “responsibility” they’re taking on when picking up gig-economy work.

Responsibilities like the value depreciation of their vehicle, or paying for sick leave and time off.

Full time employment provides strong protection against unexpected illness. The gig-economy doesn’t.

Companies like Uber seem to prey on large pools of semi-innumerate drivers who either don’t realise they’re operating a loss and too desperate to care.

The result is your productivity gains, which only exist because some of the costs simply aren’t accounted for and ignored. These aren’t real productivity gains, that’s just socialising costs and clever accounting to justify it.


- Companies like Uber seem to prey on large pools of semi-innumerate drivers who either don’t realise they’re operating a loss and too desperate to care.

Without hard data this is just a far fetched claim. You are implying that „a large part“ (how large?) people are too dumb to make this decision for themselves. Even though I do not doubt that these people exist, what is the relative threshold where all others should be restricted by rules made for that geoup? Also I would argue that there is a learning effect if someone notices he operates at a loss and can learn from others who are making a profit. This might be very valuable in fighting „learned helplessness“. But as you might notice: I am always in favor of doing things the hard way, with short term pain than obfuscating the price signals for short term ease only compensating the symptoms.


The legacy taxi system, at least in the US, was ripe for disruption. No argument there. However, disruption doesn't necessarily require shafting "employees" out of wages and benefits. Reform to medallion systems (at least in the cities that have them) might have had similar benefits, without the negatives associated with "gig" employment.


>And I'll freely admit this all can be a bit ambiguous. And that I'm not a fan of the "gig economy" in general - I'm convinced corporations are using it to reduce wages and benefits and effectively foist the cost of those lower wages/benefits on society as a whole.

I think it's ambiguous too. Though I disagree with the criteria set by this court, I'm not entirely sure on what the right criteria is. I think Uber play a line between employment and self-employment to keep it ambiguous, and I certainly agree it's to make sure they don't have to provide full employment benefits to their drivers, but I still think the classification/distinction is tricky.

If drivers are indeed employees, as I mentioned in my other comment, I think Uber gain a lot of rights over their drivers that they don't currently have.


As a counter example I bring you the Italian taxi system

Cab drivers have to receive a public license from the city to work in that city (and can only have one)

They can't decide the price, which is fixed according to some rules and are all the same for every cab in the city

The shouldn't sell the licence even if most of them do (gray legal area)

But they are not considered employees of the city but as freelancers

How do they "negotiate" the price?

They try to follow the most rewarding route for them and, unless the customer knows which is the fastest route, they get away with it

I'm not a fan of the gig economy either, but Uber drivers look to me are willing to work at their rules, their hours and on the gigs they like, which is different from what we consider being regular employees in Italy


That's similar to the taxi system in many (European and proabably traditionally US) places. The big differences compared to Uber there are:

- The rates are rather high, so the e.g. the costs for the car are taken into account and still the driver earns a decent living

- The city does not take a significant share of every fare paid

As long as the system is somewhat balanced and no turbo capitalism exploiting drivers in a weak position nobody tries it up to the supreme court. (In the US the legal system is less balanced, so I don't think Uber drivers would make it to the supreme court, not even dreaming of getting a similar verdict.)


Home Depot sets prices for services like carpet install. They sub it out to various installers. AAA subcontracts out to local tow operators to provide nationwide coverage. Huge segments of the economy would fall apart of we made all of those kinds of people employees.


> Huge segments of the economy would fall apart of we made all of those kinds of people employees.

I don't think that's really a relevant argument to whether they should be classified as employees. Huge segments of the economy have already fallen apart, and more will fall apart in the future.


IF we can't send kids into coal mines the economy will collapse.


The point is this category of worker is not just made of a small fringe of poor victims. Many of these people are legitimate entrepreneurs who become millionaire small business owners. You're going to destroy an important path to wealth creation for the poor and middle class by forcing them to be mega corp drones. This is an awful idea. You will destroy their lives by pulling up the ladders blue collar workers are using to climb out of poverty because you're upset that some Uber drivers are poor.


It's not only about opportunity for gig economy workers, it's about us all paying the price of gig economy business operations. Uber's business model can be extended to virtually any job, if we lower the barrier to entry just like Uber is trying to do for the taxi business.

Their model is to be a gatekeeper to customers via their platform - if they are successful, none of those blue collar workers trying to climb out of underemployment will have a chance at running a small ride business, because only large platforms have access to customers.

If everyone suddenly becomes a freelancer, companies are free to push externalities onto society because there will be enough people willing to take the hit to their rights/benefits for any kind of employment. It's a race to the bottom that benefits only the company that has access to the customer base.

We have to choose whether we want that or not.


Something that keeps popping back to my mind since the late 80's is to wonder to what extend government could or even should deliver type FOO services. Coding a taxi service wont cost anywhere near as much as the damage Uber is looking to deal. We spend crazy amounts of money designing, implementing and configuring labor protection and Uber obviously wants to work around it.


I think you've created a false narrative where workers have no power to demand wages or benefits. If that were true then Google engineers would be making the legal minimum wage. When you understand why Google engineers don't make minimum wage, you'll understand the flaw in your analysis on wage pricing.


Yes, it is all true, I find poverty a fascinating puzzle. I've solved one part of it already. Opinions from people who don't share that fascination cant contribute to the answer. The situation is even worse than you can imagine. I see excessive wealth render people unproductive. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see wealth come out of equally valuable contributions to civilization. Driving a car from A to B to C, well, I'm sorry, that ain't it. That would be a task ideally fit for someone who just wants to work, pay bills, buy a house, get married, have kids, go on vacation 2 times per year etc. It would be valuable to society to do it cheaply, perhaps we should even subsidize it. If you buy a bunch of cars and hire a bunch of people, then I could see the purpose of an opportunity for wealth creation.


You don't see a difference between an independent carpenter or tow truck company and an uber driver?


The primary difference is the state generally doesn't allow poor people to legally offer basic carpentry/roadside services at a rate commensurate with their skill. Things like licensing requirements create a barrier to entry unavailable to the poor, not unlike what traditional taxi companies are fighting for in their war against gig economy drivers. Such laws do help the wealthy incumbents because they have the ability to overcome those barriers, but it's at the expense of the poor.


Fields like accounting and legal services operate this way too. A friend of mine made a lot of money as a contractor during major acquisitions. I'm pretty sure he was of legal age to work in his state.


> Now, would you say that builder is employed by this website?

Probably yes. The terms are being set by the platform.

> It's a limitation of the platform (limitations made to improve customer experience - imagine if you had to negotiate for every taxi ride, you don't do this for local companies).

I've never used Uber. Does the customer get to choose the driver? On this hypothetical platform, does the customer get to choose the builder?


With Uber (or Lyft), neither party can select the other. The app dispatches drivers as rides are requested.

This is in general...

A driver can decline rides before accepting (because destination is out of their desired area or time exceeds 45 minutes), but that can impact driver rating (or at least, it used to do so). Drivers can also refuse drunk passengers, unaccompanied minors, and a few other things like that.

I'm not aware of any way for a passenger to refuse a driver, short of cancelling the ride completely (which has a fee associated if done close to actual pick-up). And, if you make another ride request, you might get the same driver again.


Another difference is that the Uber app is not an ad board. It also manages the monetary transactions. This effectively removes the ability to negotiate the price. If you in your example include that aspect it starts to resemble the Uber situation.


I'd add to this that both Uber/Lyft try and hide the price from you before you accept and penalize you for declining/canceling too many ride


Not true with Uber. It depends on the jurisdiction/market. The way it works in California is not how it works country- or worldwide.


So it is true with Uber, just not everywhere.


> That's not possible with Uber - there is no price negotiation - only declining/accepting a ride.

That is price negotiation. The market price changes all the time in response to supply and demand. If you're not willing to do it for a lower price and someone else is, you lose business to them. An hour later there is more demand and you can get some business at your price. Or you can lower your price (accept both rides) and get business both times.

Narrowing the choice to "accept or reject" isn't really removing the price negotiation, it's just simplifying it down to what it inherently always was to begin with.

> Similar argument for changing toppings on a cake - a caterer can negotiate changes to the cake - an Uber driver has no such flexibility.

They get to choose what kind of car to drive, where to buy gas, what hours to work. What would you say is the equivalent thing they don't get to choose?

> Regardless, given corporate (human?) nature is to leverage any power differential to self-benefit, it seems reasonable that regulations be interpreted in the most protective (of the party with less power) manner possible.

But what does that even mean in this case? Isn't the party with less power the one that would be out of work if reclassified as an employee, because employees have less flexibility etc. than contractors?


This is not price negotiation really at all because uber can and does kick people off the platform for not accepting rides. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-uber-drivers-get-deactiv...


That says they get kicked off for canceling too many rides. Accepting a ride and then canceling it is different than not accepting it to begin with.


They can also get kicked off for not accepting enough rides. When you're online and available you can't ignore what comes along.


Do you have any evidence for that?

Kicking people off for accepting rides and then canceling them makes perfect sense because once you accept the ride, the customer is waiting and they're not looking for another driver. It also discourages drivers from looking at the destination and then refusing rides that legally they're not supposed to, like trips into black neighborhoods.

Accepting in the first place either happens or doesn't in only a few seconds, and if you don't they immediately go on to the next driver. At best they have the incentive to make you manually re-enable your availability to drive if you neither accept nor decline more than a couple of rides in a row, so they can stop routing rides to you if you're not actually there. In makes no sense to kick you off over it, so why would they do that?


Because the added delay for customers is bad UX, and so is the increased price customers face when there are fewer drivers willing to accept rides.


Only anecdotal. I have an Uber driver friend, and other drivers have told me the same. I live in a very suburban area that's basically shut down for the winter season. There is often only one driver even active within 10 miles. It's not a problem in a city.


Getting switched offline after too much inactivity, from which you need to actively affirm intent to work by going online again, is not the same as getting kicked off the platform.


the bottom line is Uber can kick you off the platform for any reason or no reason. If it walks like a duck...


> The market price changes all the time in response to supply and demand

The 'market price' changes as Uber decides it should. There is no actual market where agents can set their prices present.


They decide it in response to supply and demand. Would you really expect them to raise prices when there is less demand and more supply and lower them when the opposite?

Which is what allows agents to set their prices. If prices are too high, some riders exit or more drivers enter which causes prices to decline. If prices are too low, some drivers exit or more riders enter which causes prices to increase. Is this not the ordinary mechanism of market pricing?


I'm not an economist or a laissez-faire capitalist, but I don't think that's the ordinary mechanism of market pricing. My understanding is that the individual actors on the market independently price their goods in competition with one another. In this case Uber is the sole authority in setting the price of rides, while in a market this would be more distributed. To quote Wikipedia on the free market:

"In a free market, the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government or other authority and from all forms of economic privilege, monopolies and artificial scarcities."[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_market


What Uber is in this context is basically an intermediary, like a retailer that sits between a manufacturer and a consumer, or a general contractor that sits between a subcontractor and a property owner.

What you have then isn't a transaction between the driver and the rider, it's two transactions, one between the driver and Uber and another between Uber and the rider. Each transaction is negotiated. Uber changes their offers to each party based on supply and demand, and if either party doesn't like it they can hold out for a better offer or go use Lyft. And since Uber does actually adjust pricing based on supply and demand, the better offer actually comes when enough people hold out.

The way you negotiate with them is by delaying your purchase/sale until they meet your price. It's a functioning market.


Take it or leave it isn't really negotiation, though, is it. There's no counter offer or alternative terms to work with. As I understand too many declines get drivers kicked off the platform, so their autonomy in this regard seems fairly limited.


Take-it-or-leave-it is good enough. That's how eg groceries are priced.

Competition does the rest.


It's not a direct negotiation, it's a negotiation by proxy.


> In your shed example, a builder could contact you and negotiate the price (perhaps the $100 price you set is completely unrealistic).

The argument presupposed that you refuse to negotiate. To say "but you can negotiate" sidesteps the whole thought experiment. You post the job at a fixed price. It's in writing on your posting, "fixed price". A builder accepts it. Or maybe they try to negotiate and you refuse and they do it anyway, or someone else accepts it. Either way someone ends up doing the job at your fixed price. Does the builder now have grounds to sue you for benefits and maybe a pension plan because you don't like haggling?

Anyway I think price negotiation is a bad criterion to use. It is neither necessary nor sufficient to prove anything.


In this shed scenario, if the first 10 builders to come across the ad think it's unrealistic and either ignore the ad or try to negotiate and get rejected, they walk away unscathed and quickly take other higher paying gigs. With Uber, I believe ignoring or rejecting customers is detrimental to your ability to continue finding higher paying customers.

... But not detrimental to your ability to find other ride-sharing apps, or non-app methods of discovering customers...


This seems like a rather different direction of argument. The analogy had a known price before you decide. Allowing you to cancel without penalty wouldn't rate as negotiating anyway. Now you are talking about having to commit to work without knowing what you'll be paid (except in general terms presumably). There are other contract gigs where that happens, as well as full-time employment where that happens.


> I publish an ad on a handyman site asking for a new shed built for £100. People can place their interest and their proposal. The price is fixed at £100, and I may set other terms and criteria.

You have satisfied all the criteria for self employment:

- The handyman can build their clientele - they are free to select whichever proposals interest them without restriction.

- The handyman can set their own rate - there is a free market of offers and proposals in which the handyman can freely make bids without restriction.

- The handyman is free to set terms and conditions - they can negotiate with a potential client to find a mutually agreeable situation.

> Uber isn't entirely different (it just simplifies the process).

It is entirely different. It "simplifies" the process by removing all of the criteria needed to be self employed:

- There is no free market of proposals. Uber sets the rate and the clients and drivers are both given the choice to take it or leave it (there is no possibility for the handyman to set their own rate). Clients are not permitted to select drivers and drivers are not permitted to select clients (there is no possibility for the handyman to build their clientele). Drivers are forced to accept rides or accept harsh penalties, like bans.

- Uber sets the terms and conditions. Both the driver and the rider are given a take it or leave it deal. Further, the driver isn't even aware of the full terms (destination, route) when they take the ride.

For Uber to be comparable to your example, it would have to allow drivers and riders to post proposals, set their own terms and prices and freely select from available offers without penalties for refused proposals.


> There is no free market of proposals

Drivers are free to accept or decline any ride requests around them. How is that not a free market of proposals? Pretty much every driver I met used multiple applications, Uber, Lift, Juno. I don't know whether or not any Uber drivers would stop for someone just flagging a cab on the street the old fashioned way.

> Uber sets the terms and conditions

There are always terms and conditions. If your handyman needs to do something to your power circuitry, he had better be a licensed electrician. The catering that puts icing on your cake, better pass a health inspection. And your cab driver better have a driver's license. All of these are pretty much take it or leave it restrictions.

> it would have to allow drivers and riders to post proposals, set their own terms and prices and freely select from available offers

No taxi service I know of works this way. Because you want your fares to be at least somewhat predictable and your incentives are aligned very different from driver's incentives.


The big problem is pricing. Uber sets the price, while handyman quotes their own price


To cast your shed-building example in the Uber model:

  * You submit a desire to build a shed to a market-making company that controls much of the market
  * The market-maker sets a price you will be billed
  * The market-maker alerts nearby builders of a construction project
    - without the location
    - without the project cost
    - without the project plans
  * A builder (capriciously) clicks "accept project" and travels to your building site
    - upon arriving the market-maker discloses to the builder the project cost and plans
    - if the builder declines to implement the project at the dictated cost, the market-maker might penalize the builder and/or exclude them from the market


Please stop abusing code formatting for just about anything

-Mobile users


I live in the hope that someday HN will apply the tiniest scrap of markdown support, and then the weird scrolling boxes will bloom as beautiful nested lists and code snippets.


Maybe that would not be an issue if HN had markup worth using. Like bulleted lists.


Excellent point, but in the meantime, let's not make our mobile users suffer!


That formatting isn't just bad for mobile users. The end of that last sentence is cut off on desktop.


Pray tell, why does the builder capriciously click "accept project", repeatedly, knowing that some projects are more worthwhile than others, other than that they are compensated adequately for the risk?

On what basis should someone presume to contradict the builder's calculus on this kind of tradeoff?


Well, those are the terms of the sometimes-lousy arrangement they have with the market-maker, which arrangement certain jurisdictions will construe as employment, due in large part to the builder/employee's lack of true contractor-like agency to consider and set a price for assignments.

That some people are willing to participate in this zany scheme doesn't mean the court necessarily ought to view them as non-employees.

Were there a bidding process with a reasonable and sufficient amount of transparency to the worker--what and where exactly is the job, what does it pay?--then the scales could tilt towards contractor-dom.


I think that's where the problem lies. A functioning market imposes certain restrictions on participants. A good regulator also adds requirements to ensure fairness, access, etc. One requirement (for instance) could be that you need to provide certain kinds of information about the work. Instead of doing this, what's the point of beating around the bush and inventing that one of the marks of employment is a "sometimes-lousy arrangement"? When did that become the defining characteristic of employment, as opposed to simply an unfavorable contract?


> what's the point of beating around the bush and inventing that one of the marks of employment is a "sometimes-lousy arrangement"?

I don't think anyone seeks to apply such a test; the lousiness of the arrangement is incidental. I had attempted to argue that the mere fact that workers knowingly take a questionable or even bad deal does not mean they are contractors. The legal status of employee vs. contractor does not hinge on that.


Your shed example is not the same as the Uber example.

As described by the court, the driver is not told in advance where the customer is going. They are told exactly how to drive there, and the rate is decided by Uber.

It would be the same as you saying "I want you to build something on my site. Bring your hammer, tools and materials. Call me to find out where. I'll pay you about $20/hr"


If so, then the "employment relationship" would last only as long as the job. When employment is specific to one job, it's a contracted job, which is a much better criterion than whatever France came up with. There is no expectation that either side will come back for more.


The French court doesn't buy your interpretation of "There is no expectation that either side will come back for more.", the mere existence of a vetting system and a rating system show Uber expected drivers to come back. The profession of driver isn't new and wasn't invented by Uber.

Uber just found a way around local labour (and tax) laws and a European government, who's getting the downside of the tech company but no fiscal or technological upside, stepped in.


Aren't ratings evidence of an expectation that the one side won't come back for more? The person who received the ride isn't recording their opinion of the driver for themselves -- they already know it. They're leaving it for some other third party.

The existence of Yelp isn't evidence that building contractors are employees, it's the opposite. Actual employers typically don't rate their employees because they're not interested in having the best ones poached by competitors.


I'm not sure what point you're debating here, the question is about "either side" expecting to come back. In this case the drivers who provide the service are expected to come back, hence the vetting and rating. It establishes a relationship that extends beyond a single trip or "job". IF Yelp ever garners a dominant position in terms of qualified leads and monopoly on pricing to building contractors, French law could conceivably look into them.

> Actual employers typically don't rate their employees because they're not interested in having the best ones poached by competitors. "Employee of the Month" posters around America beg to differ.


> "Employee of the Month" posters around America beg to differ.

"Employee of the Month" posters are hung inside your own offices rather than anywhere a competitor would be likely to see them.

> In this case the drivers who provide the service are expected to come back, hence the vetting and rating. It establishes a relationship that extends beyond a single trip or "job".

The relationship between the driver and the rider generally doesn't extend beyond the single trip. They'll probably never see each other again. The relationship between the driver and Uber may continue, but so does the relationship between a plumber and Yelp.

It seems like you're arguing that eBay sellers should be considered the employees of eBay if they do most of their sales through eBay.


No, I'm not comparing an open marketplace or a weak aggregator with the Uber app. The argument of the French court is pretty clear.

Uber pretends to find clients for contractors but treats them like employees due to three proven powers they hold over drivers: the power to give instructions, the power to control the execution, the power to sanction non-compliance with the instructions given.


What do you mean a weak aggregator? eBay sellers have ratings, have their ads ranked and surfaced based on rating and other algorithmic criteria determined by eBay, and sellers must comply with instructions given by eBay w.r.t. listing, selling parameters, payment, contact, delivery, diverting sales off platform, etc., or be deranked, delisted, or kicked off the platform for non-compliance. Literally the same thing, except with goods + services instead of services alone.

Yet sellers are not employees. Your hue and cry that it is different does not compute.

In fact, you see this degree of control or more over participants in every market, forum, or platform operator, Craigslist, Facebook, Google, the list goes on. Just because driving a car seems different does not make it actually different.


Parent seems to pivot to an argument about monopoly instead. That's a slick backslide that should be called out.


I don't see how I'm pivoting to an argument when I'm explaining the decision. Call out the French judges who clearly lack your insights and deeper understanding of local laws.

I'm giving the context of the French legal case, you're arguing from an American market stand point. Yelp or eBay are barely blips in France, Lyft doesn't even exist. Maybe Uber drivers are contractors in the US, but not according to French laws and market conditions as proven by the court decision today.


The monopoly argument doesn't even work. Lyft provides meaningful and direct competition. Observe that the large majority of the fare goes to the driver and not to Uber or Lyft.


Lyft doesn't operate in France.


And yet the majority of the fare still goes to the driver, because they still have other competitors there.


You're missing that there's an intermediary here. The expectation is that they will come back for more with Uber.

Yelp doesn't hire the building contractors on its users behalf.


What of ratings or vetting forces someone to work more? If you sell once at a fleamarket and acquire a word-of-mouth reputation for your actions, are you forced/expected to come again?

It's irrelevant why a government would act, political or fiscal reasons are always part of it, and protectionism. This doesn't have bearing on whether it is making sense or being illogical.


Vetting and ratings are about establishing longer term relationships and not just one trip using the app. It's only illogical in a vacuum and not based on how Uber behaved on the French market.


But people I know who are trying this gig economy part-time can pick their own "clientele": Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Door Dash, etc... they work for whichever client they want, on their own schedule. As an "employee" of Uber, I doubt they will want you working for competitors.


See, this is key. If Uber has to class them as employees, it should also be able to deny them from working on other platforms. It should also be able to set working hours. And deny drivers the ability to refuse rides if they wish to keep their job. It could provide a daily salary and not let drivers decide or see fares.

Because this is what employment typically entails.


If Uber has to class them as employees, it should also be able to deny them from working on other platforms.

Why? In America, there are tens of millions of people who work more than one job. They're still employees; just employees of more than one company.

Fred's Plastic Fork Factory can't tell me I can't moonlight at Alice's Diesel Cafe and Firing Range.


Anti-Moonlighting clauses are perfectly legal, though not without controversy:

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/...


> In America, there are tens of millions of people who work more than one job.

not simultaneously, or even interleaved in 30 minute increments.


As someone who has the ability to work 2 tech jobs if I wanted to, I could context switch every minute if I wanted to due to the technology allowing me to do so. Why should other people be unable to do this if the tech is there to support it?


Yes, but this is due to the fact that most jobs require your physical presence, Uber does not.


which is actually an argument that they are not employees.


No it is not and never was. Sales people - going back a very long time and include fully traveling ones - are not employees? How about traveling service technicians, not infrequently located all over the country, far from any company office? Home office - not uncommonly full time even, e.g. the company I work for does not even have an office but people employed all over this and other countries - are not employees? Please don't arbitrarily redefine "employment" to make your point.


You are the one who has been entirely disingenuous... the previous post made a very good point which you have not contradicted.


TIL: on-call doctors are not employees.


Fred's Plastic Fork Factory can tell you that you can't moonlight and can fire you if you do.


Such a clause is pretty common in employment contracts.


I've seen these precluding secondary employment with competitive entities, but it seems there'd be little competition between Fred's and Alice's businesses (based on name alone).


there is competition between uber and lyft though, you can driver for both at the same time


In France, an employer can set working hours and working conditions, as long as both comply with the law. There are restrictions for safety and health reasons for example.

However, if the work is part time, employees can’t be restricted from working at another part time job, unless that job is for a direct competitor of the employer, in which case the restriction is sometimes allowed. (The idea being there could be a conflict of interest or loyalty.)


Uber can now restrict drivers from driving on other platforms ? This will impact both the consumers and drivers for the worse.


I don’t know if Uber would be permitted to do that, I just know that in some cases it’s allowed. The term used is “concurrence déloyale” or “unfair competition”. In practice, if there was a dispute, the courts would decide if a part-time employee driving for another platform constitutes an act of “concurrence déloyale”.

In any case, I read in Le Monde this morning that this recent decision by France’s highest court may mean that Uber will just stop doing business in France (although it’s too soon to know for sure).

Here’s the link to the article in Le Monde for those who read French:

https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2020/03/05/pour-la-c...

Edit: Punctuation. Also, the article is behind a paywall. Sorry about that, I didn’t notice, as I have a subscription.


Great, let Uber do all that. Set working hours, deny them from working on other platforms, deny them from being able to refuse rides.

And let the free market compete for drivers by allowing other "gig-economy" companies to not have any of those restraints and seeing which company attracts drivers and which one dies.


Uber does penalize drivers for rejecting too many rides.


Are they going to pay more, cover health insurance due to this exclusivity clause?


> pick their own "clientele": Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Door Dash, etc...

They aren't clients, they are the "platforms". The clients are the people paying, not the people collecting.


Except they are the clients paying the driver. Uber, Lyft, etc pay the driver, so they are the client as they are the ones paying. The rider pays Uber directly, not the driver, so from the driver's perspective the gig companies like Lyft, Door Dash, or Uber are the clients they can choose to work with at any given time.


How are they different?


Uber does not let you pick your clients. Drivers get a request for a trip that they can either accept or deny, and they also penalize drivers for rejecting too many trip requests.


pretty much it is the same in consulting or any other freelancing industry, the customer always picks given the parameters ( availability, price, skill, experience etc) are acceptable. You can only choose to accept or deny as freelancer. It is always a demand driven, not supply driven.

You can choose to drive for other platforms today, you can directly engage customers ( uber drivers in my country occasionally ask you to cancel and pay directly) all of this would be illegal if they are employees.


Since Uber drivers are using their own equipment (cars), that also means they are not employees.


Since Uber drivers are using their own equipment (cars), that also means they are not employees.

This is not true. There are plenty of professions where employees bring some or all of their own equipment.


It is just one of the criteria. There are several.


And none of the other criteria fit, so it's a moot point


True. I'm a developer, and I only once got a company provided computer. And one (1) testing device (mobile dev).


do you bring your own servers too?


No, lucky me. Either I'm doing mobile and don't care wether it's an actual server behind those APIs or a hamster going crazy in it's wheel. Or I'm doing backend, in which case I only do serverless.

One colleague of mine did end up using his own server to run daily data processing and numbers crunching jobs for work though. It also served the internal analytics web UI. Apparently went on for years.


Is this different than if I worked as an employee at a pizza restaurant as a delivery driver and I use my own personal car for making the deliveries?


I have in fact delivered pizzas as a W2 employee, and had to use my own car. While I didn't ask if they'd provide a car for me, because I've never heard of such an arrangement, I highly doubt the answer would've been yes.


You should be compensated for that. Sounds illegal, at least in Europe.


I've done the same job. They pay the employee per mile, an amount that is intended to cover fuel and maintenance for a typical car. The rate they pay is presented to you before you accept the position at the company and if it is not agreeable to you then you don't have to take the job.


As mac01021 said, they do pay a commission, but you aren't going to get that job or the commission unless you already have a car.


I've worked as a W2 employee delivering pizzas in my own car.

I was definitely an "employee", if anyone is.

Crucially, this meant that I had to work the hours specified by my boss and make whatever deliveries he specified during that time period, else risk being fired.

In my opinion this was a very sensible arrangement. It was a good job and paid my college tuition. And pizza demand varies widely from time to time. It would be silly for the company to maintain a fleet of cars large enough for peak demand and then leave them in storage most of the time.

I've also worked as a software engineer, on salary, with a contract forbidding concurrent employment elsewhere, but done all the work on my own computer.

In light of the above, I don't think ownership of equipment is necessarily a meaningful consideration.


Laws are, kinda by definition, highly legible. Reality is fuzzier.

Whether or not Uber drivers fall under current legal definitions of "employee," I think they obviously do fall into the common sense definition that should be regulated under labour laws.

Reality doesn't fall neatly into categories, which is why laws tend to have tons of details and exceptions. Some labour is day labour, piecemeal, etc. Labor laws do deal with these, they now need to deal with "uber-like" arrangements.


The amount of hang wringing in this thread to ignore this simple reality and defend their darling uber is kind of disgusting.

Now id just wish law makers wake up and regulate paypal et al as banks.


Yes, because banking regulation works so well. coff 2008 coff coff.


Do you genuinely think this is best answered with a simple, top-level "regulation does/doesn't work" argument? The question has no answer, and you gain almost no understanding of regulators by pondering it.

Anyway, even the banking circa 2008 story is not simple.

The banking "regulators" in action at the time were central basically two sets of institutions, with kinda unrelated goals. The first & primary is "central banking," which uses banking regulation and stuff to stabilise currency value (inflation targeting). The second institution is things like the SEC,"consumer" protection against fraud.

The reason the currency regulator(s) get all the attention, independent authority and such is monetary history. Currencies crashed a lot, even gold & gold standard ones.^ In recent decades, this is rare. Even during the crisis, we saw very little hyperinflation around the world.

Maybe they shouldn't have this mandate. Maybe different monetary policy would be better. But, I think it's hard to deny that the big-daddy financial regulators (central bankers) do the job they were built to do successfully... currencies are stable, even under very large debt loads.

The job you give the regulator matters.

^yes, yes, controversial.


You mean deregulation? Banks have famously seen less regulations starting in the 1980s


Is employee and 1099 the same?

Because almost every 1099 contractor is restricted in the ways listed.

For example, I was doing work for a Digital Marketing company as a software developer.

I could not:

1. Take their clients 2. I had to accept their rate or just decide to not work with them 3. I accepted their terms and conditions for jobs allocated to me from them

#2 and #3 seem to be more of an issue of negotiating power, rather than reflecting whether or not I am self employed.

And #1 seems to be up to interpretation of "what is a client?"

If I drive for Uber, Lyft, and whoever else wants my services, am I not building my clientele?

Couldn't I also moonlight by offering direct driving services to other clients I source on my own?

In the ride-sharing case, my clients just happen to be large publicly-traded transportation networks that I sell my services to.

In my case with that digital marketing company, I was not restricted from developing for other companies simultaneously.

This is where some laws confuse me. They seem open to the interpretation of the day. But perhaps that's the best that lawmakers can do...


Mis-classification of employees is very common in the U.S. for tech, if you work on a company laptop and work a full time schedule for 1 client, you're likely mis classified.

Similarly, many nannies and cleaners are mis classified.


> If I drive for Uber, Lyft, and whoever else wants my services, am I not building my clientele?

I seriously doubt you, as a driver for Uber or Lyft, could legally make deals to drive people you find via your work for those companies, outside being assigned with the apps for those companies.

Anyone know what the contract with Uber/Lyft says?


I came here to ask that very question. The only thing I could find on Uber's website is this:

> Requesting a specific driver

> The Uber app cannot match you with a specific driver.

> When you request a ride, your app sends your request to nearby drivers to pick you up at your pickup location.

https://help.uber.com/riders/article/requesting-a-specific-d...


The issue isn't requesting a specific driver, the issue is a driver making a deal outside the app with passengers.

I seriously doubt drivers are allowed to make side deals with passengers.


This seems unenforceable, I don't see how they could stop anyone from doing this if someone wanted to. And I know drivers who do exactly this - they take people to the airport outside the app because they got to know them.


I mean before we had uber your exact case was often debated for the same reasons: Should agencies not have to employ you if you are solely dependent on them?


The fact that you're suggesting a price and T&Cs on the work doesn't mean anybody has to accept them/can't negotiate (unlike "appified gig work", they can directly contact you to do so), and in your scenario the middleman is "thin", i.e. it just provides communication between labor buyers and sellers. In "appified gig work", the middleman is thick: by design it makes labor a fungible commodity, and sets prices and T&Cs that workers have no choice not to accept if they want any work at all—at most there are a handful of these middlemen in any local market, and the workers are not at all involved in setting their competitive strategies. They don't have any leverage at all unless they want to stop working altogether.

A reasonable court will see this business model as what it is: a way to dodge labor laws.


> I just don't agree with the criteria of the court in this case.

Well it isn't a personal opinion is it? The court presumably knows what the legal criteria for self-employment are. Unfortunately, the single page lay summary presented as TFA doesn't go into detail as to chapter and verse of the definition, but as it is the high court I think it's safe to assume they have it right.

EDIT: more detail https://www.courdecassation.fr/jurisprudence_2/notes_explica...

To wit:

====

The criterion of the link of subordination breaks down into three elements:

- the power to give instructions

- the power to control the execution

- the power to sanction non-compliance with the instructions given.

As for self-employment, it is characterized by the following elements: the possibility of building one's own clientele, the freedom to set prices, the freedom to set the conditions for the performance of the service.

====

By these definitions, it does seem clear that the Uber-driver relationship is one of employment.


In your shed building example the customer is setting a price. In Uber's case the customer is not. This is a very significant difference, and actually a compelling reason why Uber drivers are employees who are paid a wage rather than contractors who are charging customers for a service.


Uber limits the amount of rides you can deny, i.e. you deny 5 rides in 30min they log you off the platform after awhile you get penalized. They want high acceptance rate.


This is the key. When the drivers lack the ability to freely decline rides every time every time without consequences, they are not contractors anymore.

By the way, the take-it-or-leave-it offer with dictated pricing is a really inefficient way to reach a market price. The driver logs off because they can't decline too many times, then there are less drivers, so the rideshare app has to raise prices, but then the drivers nearby are no longer online.


In addition to what others have said, this is not the full truth

> Its drivers are allowed to deny a ride, and can see the cost upfront.

Drivers can't deny too many rides (as a self-employed person can), or they are penalized by Uber.


> Here's a scenario: I publish an ad on a handyman site asking for a new shed built for £100.

But that's not a good analogy to Uber either. With Uber, neither the customer nor the driver sets the price, Uber does.


The difference is that it's impractical for Uber drivers to directly solicit customers, because too few ride at predictable times and places.

Handymen, cleaners, developers, hairdressers etc can (and do) establish relationships outside the "advertising platform" and can find a meaningful number of new clients (and total $) through word of mouth.


The main differnce is that the handymem can easily look for other customers elsewhere to find an alternative job. Uber drivers don't have this choice. They can't do a counter-offer neither. Technically, as you said, they can refuse. In practice, the power that Uber has on his drivers limits those choices a lot.


> The main difference is that the handymen can easily look for other customers elsewhere to find an alternative job. Uber drivers don't have this choice.

I'm not sure what the situation is like in France, but most Uber drivers I've seen have the Lyft app open at the same time. It seems pretty trivial to download another app and use both at the same time (easier than almost any other freelancer finding more sources for work).


Lyft doesn't exist in France.


But 4 other competitors do. Let's not get stuck with semantics.


Part of the justification of the high court is that Uber disables accounts of drivers who refuses courses. Uber also hides the destination. There's not much room for a choice.


Choosing between two service providers is not the same as making offers and setting terms yourself.


I do not know france, but for example in India smart drivers who do that all time, use uber as lead gen tool for regular recurring customers like office going employees, senior citizens with regular hospital visits and build relationships offline and network just like any good freelancer.


But it's different than literally every other employment opportunity right? No one flips burgers at McDonalds and runs across the street to make a taco at Taco Bell and then runs back to do more burgers at McDonalds all in the same hour/shift.


The inability to negotiate is the key point. On the point about choice, there are areas where drivers can drive for Uber or Lyft though so some drivers do have choice.


Just because the process is automated doesn't mean that no negotiation is taking place. Uber drivers negotiate all the time, every time they shut down the app due to rates being too low at the moment they negotiate. So Uber is forced to set rates at levels where they have enough drivers and enough passengers. It isn't like a job where if you just stop working they will fire you, you can drop in and out of uber whenever and however you want as long as it isn't in the middle of a ride.

I mean, imagine if a McDonalds worker could just say "I don't feel like working for $10 right now, I'm going home!", and then just leave in the middle of a shift. Then the next day he sees that Burger king pays more, so he goes and work for them that day for a couple of hours, after which McDonalds increased their rates so he goes back there and work a few hours. Sounds like insanity to you? Well yeah, because it is insanity if employees could act like that!

Uber drivers are not employees, end of story. Uber doesn't have any power over them as is, normal workers have a contract which is worth a lot to them, you have no such contract with Uber as it is trivial to get the permit to drive for Uber, Uber drivers are not afraid of Uber suddenly firing them, they can go in and out of their role how much they want.


Thank you. You seem to get the itch nearly completely. However you are missing one thing where Uber and Lyft have gone overnoard to the greedy side:

At least in California, driver pay, and what the customer paid are decoupled. There is no more "surge" per say, it's just a dynamic price for the user, which might be completely different than the one the driver has.


This isn't the case anymore. Uber went back to ad hoc pricing in California after this all started.


Ah, I thought they just took a cut like most platforms. Kinda like Appstore or Steam.


They started out with that, but I can't think of any other reason they changed it to the current model, except greed. And AFAIK this is only how it is in some US cities, like cities in California.

In Europe they still operate at a standard of 25% cut.


Refusing a take-it-or-leave-it offer is not negotiation.

> Then the next day he sees that Burger king pays more

Why would it be in the interest of Burger King to do that?


to have any employees show up to work


If the employee has other oportunities


The inability to negotiate is the key point. On the point about choice, there are areas where drivers can drive for Uber or Lyft though so some drivers do have choice.

Where I drove for Uber, there were five platforms. But Uber had 90%+ of the rides. In a year, I think I got one Lyft request, and nothing from any of the others.

If there were plenty of customers on all platforms your statement might be valid, but that's not the reality.


What's the cost of a customer switching platforms?


Depends on the platform, the date, the time, the location, the destination, and a dozen other factors.

Generally speaking, Lyft costs more than Uber, but you get a better class of passengers and a better class of drivers.


What? There is literally no cost. You download the competitors app, and youre good to go.

Prices for the ride are always changing. Uber usually has lower per mile cost, while Lyft has a bit lower minute cost. This does not affect switching costs.


Is a leap from a frying pan into a near identical frying pan with a slightly different four letter logo on it much of a choice?


If you only have a few hours to work here and there I would say having the choice to go drive for a service is a good thing, not a "frying pan". Would you prefer to take away that option for these people? I don't see your point.


My point is that the choice between driving for Uber or driving for Lyft isn't really a choice because other than the company paying you there isn't actually any meaningful difference. It's a reply to the parent's point and says nothing about taking anyone's options away.


I think choosing one gig over another is a form of negotiation. The driver thinks about what will pay more: Delivering an Amazon Prime package, driving for Uber, delivering a meal via Postmates, etc. So by choosing the one that pays best you're rejecting the others. So they have an incentive to pay more and get you to work their gig.


Except that neither the customer (the user) nor the provider (the driver) defines the price.

The middle-man (Uber) does. The middle-man decides what tools (car models) the provider may use to do it's work. The middle-man unilateraly sets the Terms & Conditions for both the customers and the providers, without any room for negotiation. The middle-man decides which providers may or may not get the gig. And the middle-man can cut anyone out of the platform at any time without giving notice or justification.

In your example, you fix the price. The provider (handyman) may use the tool of his choosing and, if things go well, the provider is allowed to give you his business card, and you to employ his services directly in the future.

The platform really is just a medium, just like the cork panel at your local supermarket, with an extra mediation capability / service.


This hypothetical, dare I say strawman, scenario doesn't work in creating an equivalence between builders and Uber drivers for the simple fact that it is in fact not how price negotiation works for construction projects. In the real world, for real independent contractors, the contractor sets the rate and it's up to the buyer to accept it or not (and of course possibly negotiate). A typical process involves soliciting bids from multiple contractors and seeing which one comes in the lowest, while attempting to take into account work quality. You see this in real IT consultants too; they have a given rate that they've set that they want, or they're not doing the job.

There's no method whatsoever in Uber for drivers to actually set their prices, which is a key difference.


What gig companies provide are not gigs, so much as a market for service goods, which necessarily requires some standardization of units of work and of information so as to be practicable. In any market we expect substitutable and comparable goods. The standardization is what drives the implied lack of freedom to negotiate rates, terms and conditions, etc. for each and every job. It gets tedious and ridiculous, not to mention overall inefficient for all parties.

The nature of whether somebody is self-employed rather than the employee of another should be very simple. It should have nothing to do with the specific items of negotiability or having or lacking information, as long as the unit of working relationship is one job with a deliverable, the taking or refusal of which is freely chosen, and there is no expectation that either side will work together again. I simply don't see how such a relationship can be considered employment in an intellectually honest way.

Now on top of that you can regulate how such marketplaces should work, like how states make Amazon and eBay collect and remit sales taxes, and have fair advertising laws, but that's a separate concern from the employment question.


The handyman arbitrates the exchange of money, grabbing 20-25% of it on the way? Does it penalize contractors for not taking a contract? Does it hide the details of the contracts from the contractors until they accept it? The devil is in the details of how exactly Uber operates their service, not in a squinting half-baked comparison to a hypothetical handyman site.


What you should be comparing this to is HomeAdvisor. I use them for handyman services and the handyman told me he must contact customers through a proxy phone number and they don't give him any ability to negotiate pay or terms. Yet somehow he is a contractor.


In Austria, another checkbox „pseudo self employment“ has to tick in order to get recognized as such, is the fact that the freelancer only has one client. So, I think, here it would be decided on a case by case basis. Which to me still seems overzealous - as a freelancer I always have to worry to take on 2-3 clients per year to not get reinterpreted as an employee after the fact.

Technically, this problem doesn’t apply to Uber in Austria because only rental car companies are allowed to provide this kind of service. The problem here rather lies with the cheap labor those rental car companies are employing (reportedly, those engagements sometimes border on modern slavery).


> as a freelancer I always have to worry to take on 2-3 clients per year to not get reinterpreted as an employee after the fact.

I had a similar situation in the US when I was a contractor many years ago; during periods when one client had me working on a large project I wanted to focus on, I had to take on a couple of token tiny projects periodically to keep my clients from getting into trouble with employment agencies.

I agree with the end goals of those rules but as a generously-paid technology consultant, I was in no danger of exploitation and it was just added hassle benefitting nobody.


Indeed. I can see your marketplace view, But if you see 3 ads in a row that you know are a bad deal for you or are just not great in term of timing. You could still read the ads on the handyman site.

In Uber world, you get banned of the site.

> In addition, if the driver has declined more than three rides, Uber may temporarily disconnect the driver from its application

I think you missed the part about subordination. Yes, you could have a service like Uber where you are still your own boss. ( Curb, for instance, is the response from the traditional taxi drivers )

But in the case of Uber, I tends to agree that they get away with a lot of subordination, without giving away work contract.


> I publish an ad on a handyman site asking for a new shed built for £100

A valid interpretation, which would be consistent with the court's decision, would be that you are the employer, the builder is you employee.


The judgment is based on the combination of all these criteria.

In your scenario, you are the craftman’s direct client, a contract will be signed between you and them, not with some wrapping entity.

If you need additional work on the shed you can call that same person, renegociate a price for the additional job and continue the relationship. Same if you have claims, if you need to cancel the job for any reason for instance. And you can both agree to renegociate the contract under your own terms.

That direct relation is only a part of the whole picture, but I think it’s a significant point.


That parable is stretched a bit too thin.

If that handyman site of yours set the price for the new shed, and also paid the workers who came to build the shed, it would be perfectly rational to call that site a "construction company".

There's some tradition to it as well. This varies a lot between countries, but in many places taxi drivers have historically been self employed all the way back to horse carriages. So there's that, too.

Should you pay your Uber driver directly, or should you negotiate the fare with them, the situation would be altogether different.


Aren't you removed from the platform if you reject too many rides?


In Germany the kind of work from your example is highly regulated.

That said, if you put an ad to build a shed for £100, expect a low quality result. Of course you can put all kinds of criteria but at some point you will either get screwed over or nobody will answer the ad. I also doubt that there are many people working on such gigs in a sustainable manner, even if the criteria are proportionate to the price.


Your example handyman can negotiate on rates, serve the same client in the future (with the possibility of a re-negotiated rate), and set their own terms and conditions for providing the service.

None of that applies to drivers who can either choose to take what they're given or quit.

I can't find a reason why that the court's criteria isn't sound. Can you find one?


On the other hand, what criteria would you say classify someone as an employee?

Your shed builder example seems like it could apply to almost any kind of job. By that logic, absolutely no one would be an employee.

Or put differently, what would stop me from firing all my employees and contracting them as freelancers instead?


The classification of uber drivers as employees mostly means they have to pay more tax and less money goes to drivers and uber. People will argue employees have more rights and this is good for them, but the primary benefit of someone being an employee is to the state and the benefit is financial. If too many people become self-employed, the state can't finance itself anymore. The line between 'employee' and 'self-employed' is vague and this kind of reclassification is not limited to Uber. If you try contracting as a coder for example, you are likely to get reclassified as an employee. And then you have to prove you are not. Which you aren't going to be able to, because a self-employed working through a brokerage isn't radically different from a consultant working through a consultancy. So in that case you are going to have to pay a lot of back taxes. The point is: if too many people start working for exchange sites, they will also get sued and be classified as employees, just so the state can get its dues.


> The classification of uber drivers as employees mostly means they have to pay more tax and less money goes to drivers and uber.

You forgot to disclose the fact that they are getting many perks like properly funding their public pensions while working for Uber AND getting access to regular unemployment funds. The advantages absolutely out-weight the drawbacks in France. And they are guaranteed a minimum wage, legal contract framework which means that Uber cannot fire them on the spot and so on and so forth. The only loser here is Uber, not the driver, if Uber were to chose to continue doing business in France.


We shall see how French uber drivers will fare in future but I don't share your optimism.


Several things:

First, you say "more rights" as if that was just a detail. But paid vacations, sick/paternity/family leave, minimum wage, pensions, social security, right to strike, unemployment benefits and the like are not just a minor thing.

> If you try contracting as a coder for example, you are likely to get reclassified as an employee.

I have worked as a freelance through some brokerages/exchanges (e.g. Upwork) and there you set your own rates, your own conditions, and your own clients. I think it's a pretty different framework than Uber.

The issue is not brokerage/exchange or not, it's who controls the terms of the labour done.


It is a 'detail' not to us but from the perspective of the government.

You are still pretty likely to get pursued by the tax services for 'freelancing'. At least where I live. I hope you manage to slip through the net though :)


Employees get a lot more benefits than self-employed. Health care insurance, sick days, vacations and pensions.

I do not know about France, but in Germany, employees only pay half of their healthcare insurance fees. And only their wage is subject to the healthcare insurance "tax", while self-employed people need to pay the tax on all incomes, including investment incomes


>> If too many people become self-employed, the state can't finance itself anymore.

This is not the case in France. Self-employed people still pay personal income tax and/or a tax on company profits.

The increased taxes on employees as compared to the self-employed is mainly due to paying for the infrastructure and cost of providing extra benefits to employees, like unemployment insurance, vacation pay, better pensions, etc. The term for these taxes are “charges sociales”, meaning they’re used for providing social services. The increased taxes are not used for building roads, paying for the armed forces, or things like that. Other taxes pay for that.

If everyone in France were self-employed, a very few government services providing social services (like Pole Emploi) might cease to exist, but most government services would be entirely unaffected.


Same here. It turns out west Europe doesn't differ that much on these issues. In fact your answer only strengthens my conviction this is a major underlying reason. You think the French government would take it on the chin and just accept for example not being able to pay pensions?

From what I can gather off frenchproperty.com the 'social charges' tax rate employees pay is very very big (29% employee, 50% employer, total would be something like 65%) while self employed pay 12% to 23%.


> From what I can gather off frenchproperty.com the 'social charges' tax rate employees pay is very very big (29% employee, 50% employer, total would be something like 65%) while self employed pay 12% to 23%.

Exactly how much someone will pay in social charges is complex, because it depends on their line of work, how their business is set up if self-employed and how much they’re making.

But here’s one example:

A typical white collar salaried employee, for example a computer consultant, who’s netting 50000 euros will be costing his employer 100000 euros after social charges are taken into account. This worker will be paying into two different pension plans and is also paying for unemployment insurance.

A typical white collar self-employed contract worker who’s billing 100000 euros will have perhaps 5000 euros or so of business expenses and perhaps 30000 to 35000 euros of social charges. It varies mostly on how good their pension plan. So they’re netting 60000 to 65000 euros.

The difference between these two cases is mostly that the salaried worker (currently) has a better pension plan and also has much better unemployment insurance coverage (but which is also expensive).

If you’re not worried about finding work, being self-employed is a bit more profitable in this case, but not hugely so.

The 12% and 23% numbers that you saw is for a what’s called a “microentreprise”. In that case, the social charges are based on total income, not profits (so no deductions).

12% is for when you’re selling goods, not services, and you don’t get to deduct the cost of the goods.

23% is for when you’re selling a service, which is great, but you can’t bill more than 70000 euros (not counting sales tax) in a year and and still be a “microentreprise”.

The idea of the “microentreprise” was to allow very small businesses to get started, with lower social charges and much simple accounting procedures. It’s great for part-time or side projects or low paid work, but it’s not suitable for full-time well paid work.


I forgot to add that between the two cases that I mentioned, the salaried employee also has 5 weeks or more of paid vacation. The self-employed worker just bills for days that they works. Vacation is unpaid or more accurately needs to be factored in as a cost in order to compare apples with apples and not oranges.


No, the French government would not accept not being able to pay pensions. But the French government would still be able to pay pensions, even if everyone were self-employed. The self-employed do already pay into pensions.

Additionally, while there are currently 42 different pension plans in France, depending on your line of work, under Macron there's an evolution towards having just one government pension plan for everyone. The new system will be based on building up points which can be cashed in on retirement. It will probably start for those who retire starting in 2035. So in the future the pension plan will be the same for everyone, self-employed or employee.


Maybe I'm mistaken. I thought a pay it forward system like what we have here is pretty unique. So workers do not pay for pensioners directly then? At any rate it can't be much what they're paying because the rates are too low.


I don’t follow your reasoning, but just for information the state pension plans of both the Netherlands and France work on a “pay as you go” basis.

Throughout your career, you build up the right to a certain pension in each of the different pension plans you’ve been paying into. When you retire, those who are still working and paying into that plan pay for your pension (as you did when you were working).

I can’t vouch that it works this way for all 42 different plans, as I haven’t checked, but I’ve worked both as an employee and as a freelance consultant and it works that way for the 4 different pension plans that I’ve paid into. And, as I said, in the future there will be only one state plan for everyone (plus various private plans as well, of course).

So I see no problem with everyone in France being self-employed and France continuing to pay out pensions.


You don't pay more taxes as an employee than you do when self-employed AFAIK.


This depends heavily on the tax laws in a particular jurisdiction.


Yes. Some (mostly) very low tax places won't have this problem. But there are reasons for it. There is the underlying principle that government likes to incentivice new business creation over just taking a job someone else could have gotten. There is also the issue that dodging tax is easier for one man business than employees so if you want to tax them at all you have to be a bit lenient.


Are self-employed people paying less taxes per se in France?


With the handyman example there would be lots of other job offers with different price offers, there might be someone else asking for a shed for $150, or a deck for $130. With Uber prices are not decided by the customer or the employee.


Does the customer set the price for an Uber trip? I thought Uber did that.

I agree with the judge that Uber drivers have far too little control over their situation to count as self-employed. They're entirely dependent on Uber.


Taxi drivers are very similar. They don’t have a say on price, just yes or no. And they were never considered employees, if they own their cars and work whenever they want.


To me the main reason why this is not analogous to Uber is that with Uber, the bidder does not set the rate, Uber does.


Can't drivers can deny the fare without penalty if the work offer doesn't pay what they want?


Declining can adversely affect the driver's rating. How it does so, and the imolications of that rating, are unilaterally decided by Uber. There is no negotiation; as a driver, you either agree or you don't drive for Uber.


I am not aware of Uber manipulating ratings of cancelled rides. From my understanding of the platform only riders can rate the driver. Is there a published policy that would back up either of our assertions?


Not cancelled, declined. The rider can't rate the ride because it was never scheduled in the first place. From the user's perspective, they're still waiting for the app to find a driver. They revised it in 2017.

> Moreover, declining rides won't negatively impact drivers as much as it did before.[0]

Of course, won't impact as much still means impact.

[0]: https://mashable.com/2017/08/22/uber-drivers-ride-flexibilit...


Don't overthink it. Uber is rather obviously a dispatch service and rather obviously not a marketplace.


Even in formal employment, you do the same for the above when you negotiate an employment contract


I dont think technical distinctions really matter in this case. Uber are trying to provide a cheaper service, by simply fucking over their workers, nothing else. And that should be stopped.


Seems a fair judgement since all the restriction make the drivers effectively work as employees:

> Drivers who use the Uber application do not build up their own clientele, do not freely set their rates, and do not determine the terms and conditions of providing their transportation service. The company imposes the itinerary and the driver’s fare is adjusted if this itinerary is not followed. The destination is unknown to the driver, thereby revealing that the driver cannot freely choose the route that suits him/her...


Doesn't all of this also apply to taxis? Taxis pick up at taxi ranks or off the street. Taxis have regulations set by an organisation. Taxis (in most places) have rules that say they must take the most efficient route. In most places, taxis aren't allowed to refuse a customer based on destination.

Does that mean that a taxi driver is an employee? Of course not.


Some taxi drivers are employees, it really depends.

Some taxi companies have abused the independent contractor status as well and went through the same kind of trial in court. Here's an example: https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/12/12/taxi-drivers-emplo...


>Taxis pick up at taxi ranks or off the street.

'Radio' calls and calls they've privately arranged with customers as well.

>Taxis have regulations set by an organisation.

That would be local by-law in most cases.

>Taxis (in most places) have rules that say they must take the most efficient route.

You can't intentionally ripoff customers but the fastest route and the cheapest are often different. You can take whatever route you want as long as the customer is cool with it.

>In most places, taxis aren't allowed to refuse a customer based on destination.

You absolutely can refuse a customer as long as it's not descriminatory, like most other businesses.

>Does that mean that a taxi driver is an employee?

Some drivers are employees, some are best compared to franchisees and others are totally independent.


You absolutely can refuse a customer as long as it's not descriminatory, like most other businesses.

Depends on your jurisdiction.

For example, taxi drivers in Chicago were notorious for refusing to take people on trips that were too short, or too far out of the CBD. Sometimes they'd even refuse to take people from downtown to the airport because if traffic is bad, or there was a long wait in the staging area at the airport, it would cut into their profits.

Chicago made that behavior illegal. It still happens occasionally. But if you know the law, you can do what I do and sit in the cab and refuse to get out while offering to call the police to have an officer explain the rules to the driver.


That's a fair point, they forbid you refusing short trips most places I'm familiar with. I wasn't really thinking about that in this case, mostly people asking you to take them sketchy places or belligerent customers which are the only reasons I consider it. An important distinction is it's local law that forbids that, not a company policy like with Uber.

Just a few days ago I had some drunk customers screaming at me in my cab and shaking my seat under the impression I was legally required to drive them. They earned a very long walk home to think about it.


Just a few days ago I had some drunk customers screaming at me in my cab and shaking my seat under the impression I was legally required to drive them. They earned a very long walk home to think about it.

I had a nearly identical situation when I Ubered. In spite of multiple warnings, their behavior didn't improve. When I dropped them off in the middle of nowhere they insisted that I was required by law to carry them. Nope. I'm not a public bus.


Did you have any trouble with Uber over that or were you simply able to cancel with no drama?


The pax make a lot of threats about reporting me to Uber and the police and whatnot, but as far as I know, nothing became of it. I never heard anything, and I never got anything deducted from my earnings, as far as I noticed.

In my experience, the first thing that happens when anyone calls Uber with a complaint is they get their fare refunded. That's usually enough to cool most people off.


> You absolutely can refuse a customer as long as it's not descriminatory, like most other businesses.

Are you sure this is the law in France? And remember that Uber operates in several countries. When discussions about this happens we have to remember that each country have it's own rules and laws, and we cannot expect that the law in your country is the only law exists.


>we cannot expect that the law in your country is the only law exists.

I doubt federal law covers taxi regulations in any country, it's generally local by-law or equivalent. The regulations are going to be different in Paris than they are in Lyon.


In Brazil the federal law L12468 [1] regulates the taxi driver profession. The federal law L8078 [2], known as the Consumer Protection Code, protects (as the name says) the consumer in any transaction, be it products or services. The section 39 subsection 9 states that:

"Art. 39. É vedado ao fornecedor de produtos ou serviços, dentre outras práticas abusivas:

[...]

IX - recusar a venda de bens ou a prestação de serviços, diretamente a quem se disponha a adquiri-los mediante pronto pagamento, ressalvados os casos de intermediação regulados em leis especiais"

In a free translation:

"Art. 39. The supplier of products or services is prohibited, among other abusive practices:

[...]

IX - to refuse the sale of goods or the provision of services, directly to anyone who is willing to acquire them upon prompt payment, except in cases of intermediation regulated in special laws"

This is just an example of how the law structure can be so different between countries. Brazil as France are based on the civil law, instead of common law as in the United States.

I really don't know how is in France and I am not saying it is like Brazil. I'm just saying that with so many countries in the world doesn't make sense to expect the rest of the world to be like your home.

[1] http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_Ato2011-2014/2011/Lei/...

[2] http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/leis/l8078.htm


I find it amusing that in the course of chiding me for allegedly assuming laws are the same in all countries you assumed I'm American (I'm not).

I'm a taxi driver speaking generally about the differences in our job vs. Uber drivers. I will now step back and let the software developers argue about things they know nothing about.


I know very little about it but it seems a pretty idiotic sector with strange rules in every village. In NL they will deliver 12 euro worth of food for free 25 km away. A 500 meter taxi ride will cost at least 10 euro. 100 euro for 50 km. I read stories about other places where prices are so low they cant realistically pay for the car.


Absolutely incorrect. It's not a rule at all.


Taxis in Paris have a reputation (warranted or not) of refusing customers based on destination.


It's pretty common everywhere. Imagine waiting (potentially hours) queued in a taxi stand for a fare, only to get somebody with a $5 trip who's rude and smells like they haven't showered in a decade.

None of the people who make the taxi regulations (or the passengers who invent their own in the back seat) would accept that person if it was their own car, but taxi drivers are seen as contemptible and unworthy of basic human decency by a staggering portion of the population. I am a white driver so I get treated much better than most, but it's still mind blowing to see. I understand why taxi drivers start to give 0 f's after a while.


>Imagine waiting (potentially hours) queued in a taxi stand for a fare, only to get somebody with a $5 trip who's rude and smells like they haven't showered in a decade.

I agree, we should pay taxi drivers a living wage so that this can't happen.


>we should pay taxi drivers a living wage so that this can't happen.

The drivers this affects most are the ones who are self-employed. You could increase fare prices but riders would just go to ride-sharing platforms where the drivers have less overhead due to less regulation.

What municipalities (or whatever jurisdiction is responsible) need to do is relax taxi regulations so taxi drivers can be more competitive with ride-sharing apps (or the opposite and hold Uber/Lyft to the same standards).


AFAIK all of these apply to Uber drivers in France as well.


Taxi drivers can pick up anyone on their own terms (with some limitations from local laws). Uber drivers on the other hand can only legally pick up rides dispatched from Uber or another ride-sharing app. That's all they're insured for and that's all local laws will allow because they don't have status as licensed taxi drivers in a licensed vehicle.

A customer can hand me cash and nobody gets a piece except the government. An Uber driver cannot accept cash or payment outside the Uber app or they will be fired.


(French) VTC may actually pick up anyone on their own terms providing the ride was booked in advance by the customer (ie. they can't pick someone in the street). The customer may order through a ride-sharing app, or through any other means, eg. by phone, email, whatever.

What Uber forbids is building up such a clientele from customers it brought through the app.


What are you talking about? Maybe you are referencing how Uber works in the some American state? This is France and that's not how the regulation works there. US-centrisism at it's finest.


Uber drivers can't pick up hailed rides anywhere. That has nothing to do with the jurisdiction, it's simply not a function of the app. If they did, they would be taxi drivers.


I think you're coming from a completely wrong view point. There are no "Uber drivers" these are taxi drivers that choose to (at times) use the Uber app to get clients.

Depending on the local jursidiction, they might be absolutely free to do street pickups.

For example in Finland someone driving for Uber could pickup someone from the street.


They may be free to do it under local law, but they would not be doing it as an Uber driver, they would be doing so as a taxi driver.

There is no ability to use the Uber platform for hailed or other ad-hoc rides, they must be ordered through the platform and all payments must go through Uber.

Uber provides the commercial insurance to drivers they need when carrying passengers, for example (pretty sure they do this in all areas they operate, but I'll wait with bated breath to be told they don't in Bulgaria). If a taxi driver who also worked for Uber picked up a hailed ride it would not cover them.


Exactly, so we agree on the point - there are no 'uber drivers' per se, they are just contractors driving a car and intermittently using services to find clientele.

Uber provides some insurance in _most_ countries they operate in, but it's quite often the case that this is not enough and that other insurance (usually specific for their classification e.g. Taxi Driver insurance, or VTC insurance) is required. So your point on insurance is quite moot.

What's actually interesting is that some of Uber's competitors do have a street-hailing functionality, where the app essentially works as a virtual card terminal for hand-hailed rides. Cool!


>usually specific for their classification e.g. Taxi Driver insurance, or VTC insurance


Yes, your point? You need different insurance if you're going to be driving 10 hours per day instead of just to work, and from work. Who would have guessed?


Why are you being so rude? You've been disrespectful since your first comment in this thread.

My point is even the French classify rideshare drivers and taxi drivers differently, per your own admission.


My apologies, I think I started off on a bit of a negative tone because I might have mistakenly analyzed your comments as a bit pompous and disrespectful as well. If that was not your intention, my bad. I should always better assume best intentions, not to mention discuss is always more productive if we stay on a positive tone.

What I wanted to establish here is that 1) Conditions for driving for a ridehailing platform differ massively by city or by country. 2) I do not know of any countries which classify "uber drivers' as any form of legal classification. There might be a distinction between taxis, and other forms of "private for hire transport services", which is again an argument for treating these as independent contractors.


I drive a taxi in a rich community 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trust me when I say any pompousness was beaten out of me some time ago. :)

You've made some reasonable points for sure. The universal difference between traditional taxi drivers and Uber drivers that I want to reiterate is that truly self-employed taxi drivers are paid directly by customers, whereas Uber drivers are always paid exclusively by Uber. That, I feel, is a very important distinction when comparing their employment status.

Here in Ontario rideshare drivers and taxi drivers both have different legal status. Most legislation is on the municipal level but there is provincial law as well that makes the distinction.


Taxi drivers are almost certainly mostly employees. "Contactor" is a kinda arbitrary employee status which has some theoretical usages - but most of the time it's just abused to deny employment benefits from employees.


All of the taxi drivers I knew in SF when I lived there rented their taxi for the night, up front.


That sounds pretty strong as an indicator they were legitimately contractors - but it's always a complex question. Specifics like: would the drivers be punished or penalized for not showing up for work?, is there an employee conduct agreement the dispatch center enforces and how does it enforce that?, how does a driver qualify for eligibility to rent - can anyone with a cab license freely rent or is there an interview beyond that?

Independent contractor status is a really finicky thing to define and, in the end, it's a status that mostly deprives employees of rights in favor of an employer so any "grey" usage of it should be highly suspect.


Traditional taxi drivers own their taxi medallions and may transfer those medallions to other drivers, which provides one key aspect of their "independent" contractor state: If the cab company mistreats them, they can take their medallion elsewhere.

Uber's model prohibits drivers from subcontracting (transferring) their rides to others, which pierces the veil of 'independent contractor': either a contractor can subcontract, or they're not a contractor.

Caveat: This is not at all a complete argument for or against taxis or gig economy, but is meant to show how a division exists between the two to permit further consideration of the ruling.


> Traditional taxi drivers own their taxi medallions

That's not really the case in a lot of places - drivers 'rent' medallions from Taxi companies, as the medallions cost many times the annual income of a driver. Although, their value is droppnig due to ridesharing apps.

[1]


Why say "ride sharing"? It's not sharing a ride. You can't use uber to basically organise carpooling. It's buying a ride.


Yes you can, I turn on Uber Driver every night on my commute home from work and they only give me riders heading in the same direction. You can do this up to twice a day on Uber.


You certainly can, at least in some of their markets. The vast majority of my Uber/Lyft rides are carpool rides, frequently there are 3 of us in the car with the driver.

It's called Uber Pool, and Lyft Line.


"Ride sharing" is a common term for Uber and similar companies because when Uber first started you did, indeed, share rides.

Now it's more correct to call it a "ride hailing" platform, but the original term still sticks.


Medallions are a US permit, this article is about a ruling in France.


The same system exist in France: taxi driver must own a medallion ('plaque') which they purchase from someone retiring, rent from a taxi company, or get issued by the city (this is theoretical in large cities: very few new medallions are created).

Anecdotally, the taxi company owning the medallion are not allowed to rent them: so instead they rent cars to their contractors, and lend the medallions to their renters.


Mut Uber drivers are VTC drivers which are governed by different rules.


> either a contractor can subcontract, or they're not a contractor.

This doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. I often work as a contractor. If I decided one morning to send a friend into a clients office to fulfil my duties, I would not even expect them to be able to gain entry to the building.


Are you a contractor, or are you an employee of a contracting firm? I've been both, and it is a meaningful distinction.


I’ve been both a contractor directly for companies, and contracted through contracting companies (being an employee for a contracting company is usually called being a consultant, which I’ve also been). In either case I would not assume that I could arbitrarily sub-contract my work out to others.


The ability to subcontract is one of many tests for whether you are an independent contractor or not.


In which jurisdiction? How many tests are there? How many do you have to pass?

It’s a pretty ridiculous assertion to claim that you must be able to sub-contract to be a contractor, and I’d be surprised if there was even one jurisdiction in the world where that was true. It would mean you could never screen contractors.


I would argue you aren't a contractor then


Depends on jurisdiction but practically, yes, and in fact in California the EDD was systematically suing local governments to convert taxi drivers into employees (and to recapture lost taxes they would have billed had they been employees) until Uber blew that system out of the water. Source: was taxi driver in SF / CA during that time. And as a practical matter, yes these folks met all the checkboxes of being employee despite the assertion otherwise by taxi companies and cities.


Why not? Sounds like they would also be an employee under this ruling.


Taxis are paid directly by their customers, so one of the criterions does not apply. (Note that some taxis are employees of taxi companies, but they need not be, as far as the regulation at hand is concerned.)


Whose employee? That of the taxi organisation which regulates them, but doesn't actually pay them? That of each of individual customer, who are the ones who pay them?


Does this reasoning mean that all waiters are independent contractors? They collect cash directly from the customer and reserve a portion of that before passing it on to their employer (the tip) - taxi drivers (who are members of a firm) due end up paying the firm dues for the service of having a pooled call center and possibly maintenance services.

I think trying to determine if someone is an employee based on if they receive cash from customers is a pretty arbitrary line that seems to exclude some pretty valid definitions of independent contractors like temporary workers and sales consultants.


And that is part of the reason many people also criticizes the tipping system in US/Canada. An arguably broken system from another industry doesn't make for a good comparison.


Waiters can be employees of a restaurant. Who can taxi drivers be an employee of?


The dispatch company - the company which, generally, has their name painted on the side of the taxi.


I don’t think most taxi drivers have a connection to any ‘dispatch company’ they just pick up fares as they drive around.


I am purely speaking from my own experience and I can't speak absolutely... but every city I've ever lived in has had a few random cabbies driving around that are far outnumbered by the cab companies - whether this is yellow cab or something random like Boston's Metro Cab[1]. If you ever need to call and schedule a cab to the airport you'll be calling into a dispatch center - rather than just arranging it with a dude. My impression is that street hires are a pretty small proportion of the taxi market.

1. http://metro-cab.com/


No, you don't understand. They are customers of the dispatch company. They pay the dispatch company licensing fees and rent. Totally different, way more exploitative and way more legal arrangement.


Where, in France? Considering they are employees in the Benelux I find that implausible. Especially considering that the OP is about a French court saying that Uber was just trying to find a loophole so they wouldn't have to treat their employees like any normal taxi company.


Are you arguing from the framework provided by a presumably not Western European legal system?


There's the obvious choice of the dispatch company they work for.


I don’t think all taxi drivers work with a dispatch company. Most just pick people up at the side of the road don’t they?


I think that's a mis-categorization - I do agree that these exist (and a lot of them fall into the "airport taxi" class since that's a reliable place to get business) and a cab operating in such a manner sounds plausible to be an independent contractor. But organizations like Yellow Cab exist and is the way most folks hail a cab, even at hotels - when you ask the concierge to get a cab for you they'll almost certainly call a local company and ask for a cab to be sent over - someone actually needs to be monitoring that phone, and the logistics of each cabbie having a phone in the car is kinda crazy "Oh ernie is currently driving someone, bart might be available I'll call him" so there is a central dispatching center with a few employees that just help make sure that the cabs are well distributed to quickly respond to calls.


> they'll almost certainly call a local company and ask for a cab to be sent over

In my experience they just step outside and wave one down.


Those mostly also belong to a bigger company that handles call in dispatches.


I don't think they've ever had radios in though, doesn't seem likely that they also take dispatches.


You don't need a radio now because of cell phones...


I said they never had radios in the past. These aren't radio taxes. They pick people up from the side of the road. That's most taxies in my experience.


Most will do both dispatched pickups and hailed pickups as I understand it.


No… no, they don't. O-o


An employee of who?


Lots of taxi drivers are owner-operators, and many others lease medallions/vehicles but otherwise do their own thing.

As for taking the most efficient route, a driver purposely taking a longer route you didn't ask for to scam you out of your money is just that, a scam. So it's illegal on that basis alone.

They key difference with a lot of these taxi restrictions is they are set by the government to protect consumers. The government imposing uniform standards on taxi drivers through legislation is not at all the same thing as private companies doing so on drivers while weaseling out of employment requirements. The government can set lots of restrictions on how jobs are done without requiring employment contracts with those workers; private companies do not have those same powers. Hell, the government can execute people; there's no expected parity here whatsoever.


>Does that mean that a taxi driver is an employee?

In Europe? (or France in this particular case) yes absolutely. I've never been to a European country where taxi drivers are not employees of regular taxi companies receiving salaries.


In Paris, ~60% own their medallion, ~30% are independent and rent it from a taxi company, the rest are employees.


> Does that mean that a taxi driver is an employee? Of course not.

Yes it does, and a lot of them are employees.


Aren't most taxi drivers customers? They rent the car and the privilege of branding their vehicles from the taxi company.


...aren't taxi drivers employees?


no, most are independent contractors who lease the cab and the medallion from the taxi company. If you have your own medallion, you lease that to the cab company (so you are making money from it even when you are not working, which you can't do 24/7). Cabbies have always been independent contractors with very few exceptions.

The cab company leases the medallions and has some store of medallions it owns. It buys and maintains the cars and runs the dispatching service.


I am from Brazil, here taxi drivers usually own the medallion and the cab...

The medallions is suppposed to be nontransferrable and free, you would only need to pass some certification tests, but there are ridiculous levels of corruption, and a pinch of violence here and there (For example drivers in certain spots violently banning others from using the same spots, even with guns if they think is needed).

Here Taxi Mafia runs strong, but is still made of individuals, not companies.


I still don't understand how Uber is not a taxi service bar some nitpicking.


Conceptually, a taxi is a regulated industry. The regulation created by the government sets the work conditions, and the taxi medallion is the contract between the taxi provider and the government. In a way, it's different from both the contractor and employee status which is usually between 2 private parties.

The owner/recipient of the medallion agrees to certain work conditions/obligations (non-discrimination, destination-blindness, accept credit cards, sometimes provide wheelchair amenities, etc.) and receives certain privileges (limited monopoly, right to pick up anyone on the street, right to use taxi lanes and taxi files, etc.). Whether the drivers actually meet the obligations is often a matter of lack of enforcement and what the driver can get away with, but it really is a quid-pro-quo of rights and responsibilities.

Medallions ended up being owned by taxi companies who rented them out to contractors or employees, so the relationship between the medallion owner and the driver (2 private parties) depended on how they set up the contract (and both kinds exist). And of course, private parties abuse independent contractors and employment contracts all the time, so it's really a gray area in practice. But regardless of who is paying whom, the driver should adhere to the medallion rules while driving/waiting on fares.

When looking at taxi and ride sharing, it helps to have a brief history of the industry:

- Before medallions, anyone could call themselves a driver, and pick up anyone for any price--true market competition. Of course, abuse and discrimination was rampant, riders were vulnerable, and too many drivers would drive the offered price so low only the desperate in dilapidated/dangerous vehicles would compete.

- Regulation in the form of medallions and meters came along with the idea of promoting mobility. Limit the number of drivers and set the fares so that someone working full-time can make a decent living, make sure they have safe vehicles and not criminal drivers, mandate shortest routes and non-discrimination. In the best of all worlds, there is a competent fleet of drivers, and people can get around the city and suburbs as needed.

- Because this is not the best of all worlds, taxis became sleazy and abusive, the medallion owners exploited their drivers (both employees or contractors), and regulatory capture ensured that the customer protection obligations were no longer enforced.

- Uber and others exploited the loophole of the radio-taxi: you phone in and get a taxi dispatched to your location. Except with mobile phones, that's like standing on the curb and hailing a taxi, which was the artificial monopoly given to taxi medallions. Frankly, I think ride-hailing apps should've been regulated on that alone, but because the whole industry had such a bad reputation and entrenched interests, everyone was happy to find a way around them.

- As the middle-men, the ride-hailing companies are trying to set themselves up to get the best of both worlds: set prices and make sure drivers aren't really free, but also not have any of the responsibilities of keeping ride-for-hire on the road or promoting mobility.

Another side of this whole contractor/employee debate is the destination-blindness. As a driver, you don't want to drive the unprofitable fares, either too short or too long to the suburbs without a return fare. In order to be appealing to riders, Uber et al. have to hide this from the drivers, otherwise the drivers would refuse more rides. If all drivers became true contractors free to set rates and pick-and-choose any ride, we'd be back to the original unregulated situation (race to the bottom). So the companies get why the regulations exist, but if the drivers were employees, then the companies would have to bear the cost of the unprofitable fares. So they make the drivers feel like contractors to bear that cost for them.


Would Uber be happy to be classified as a taxi company?


Taxis are paid directly by their customers.


Most taxi drivers in the U.S. should be classified as employees. Where they drive a company managed car (under a company owned medallion), work certain hours.


> Does that mean that a taxi driver is an employee? Of course not.

Why not?


>Does that mean that a taxi driver is an employee? Of course not.

Not disagreeing with the absurdity of this, but aren't taxi drivers usually employees when there's a centralized call number to hail a cab? That, or they are truly independent. So I don't see the argument here.


The (press release of the) judgement does not address a key counter argument: a large majority of drivers work for several platforms simultaneously. Even if that particular driver did not, he obviously had that possibility: the switching cost are negligible for a driver.

Source/disclaimer: used to work for a direct Uber competitor in France.


Having more than one job doesn't mean I'm necessarily self employed. I could work at a supermarket during the mornings, and a cornershop in the evenings, and still be an employee in both cases.


In the case of a driver, they get the ability to dynamically pick their rides in real time, and choose from the different apps the one that pays the most.

There's a paradox in this: Uber and its competitors would ideally like their drivers to be 100% committed; yet they also need the drivers to be able to work for several apps as a defense against requalification as an employee.


No, they simply don't allow drivers to work for competitors with a simple trick: designated routes. Working within the same day on different apps is not enough, it has to be different apps => multiple clients => one trip. If an Uber driver were to pickup a Lyft user on a trip and to drop them off away from the main algorithmicly imposed road. Uber would warn the driver within a few days, regardless of client reviews.


I was not clear enough: indeed, they can't drive simultaneously different clients (from different apps). Instead, while they are waiting for a new client, they have several apps open, and if they get ride propositions from different apps, they pick the most lucrative one.


I don’t see why the same couldn’t apply to supermarket employees, where you can dynamically choose your shifts in real time and pick the highest of all the available work.

I mean there are even a number of worker supply firms out there that provide workers on this basis. A business needs people to clean floors, they issue a request to their supplier and they supply the nearest, cheapest available workers.


But you cannot simultaneously work for both.


Nor do you for Lyft/Uber. You're simply looking for work for both simultaneously.


I'd say the only way to "simultaneously" work for both is to have a rider from more than one service in the car at the same time. Probably 0% chance they'd have an overlapping route, so you'd have to go off-route for one of them, and I'm sure that wouldn't go well. But for all the drivers I've seen that use more than one service to find riders, never seen this happen.


I don’t see a difference between shift work at multiple super markets and multiple ride for different ride hailing apps.

Only difference is the length of the shift, and the amount of notice before hand.

Many supermarkets only provide shift schedules hours before they start. Uber just provides their shift schedules seconds before they start.


Just curious, when are you "working" for uber or lyft? I'm honestly not sure how it works. Do you collect an hourly wage when you are waiting? Or do you only collect money when you actively driving a passenger?


Drivers get a percentage of each ride.


That's a limitation of humanity, not a property of employment.


See the grandparent's context.


Having multiple jobs doesn't indicate self-employment autonomy, neither does it remove the overriding conditions the person is subject to with each employer (in this case: building own clientele, setting rates and other key terms of providing transportation service).


In what twisted world is that a counter argument?


The driver does however set their own hours, can go online and offline at choosing, can reject or choose a ride if they wish, and can freely choose the method by which they fulfill a ride (there is no set route a driver must take).

Not sure this is as clear as it seems.


They're not free to choose the method of fulfillment at all. They can't stop at 7-11 on the way, nor can they complete the route with a rickshaw, nor can they subcontract it. They can't pick up additional passengers except by Uber's explicit permission.

That freedom reduces to "they're free to optimize the route to get there quickly" which is a freedom you have at just about any job. I can decide how to code most efficiently, but does that really make me more contractor-like?


When you get hired as a construction contractor to finish a job, you don't get to kick back and do whatever you want while the job is "active."

You can choose to work on the roof before the windows if you want, but ultimately you have to deliver a completed project.


I don't think that allowing drivers to freely set their rates is necessarily a good thing. It "costs" money for an Uber driver to wait for a ride, so they're incentivized to undercut the competition in order to get more rides.


Most of the contract work is of this nature. The major differentiation between contract worker and employee is "work at will" i.e. there are no expectations for fixed hours indefinitely. If you can't get fired because of not showing up at work, then you are not really employed.


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