In a groundbreaking ruling, New Zealand's Employment Court determined that Uber must treat its drivers like workers. The drivers are currently regarded as independent contractors. In fact, across all industries, the majority of workers in the gig economy—think of the delivery people and drivers employed by firms like Uber, Ola, Zomato, Swiggy, etc.—are classified as contract workers and do not get pay or other benefits typically provided to employees. They instead take a percentage from each finished project.
FIRST Union and E tu, a New Zealand trade union, jointly bought the case there. Four Uber drivers' employment status was appealed for clarification. However, the decision will have an impact on practically all Uber drivers as well as many gig workers, not just the drivers who took part in the appeal.
Although, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper, the ruling did come with a caveat. In the judgement chief judge Christina Inglis wrote that the court "does not have jurisdiction to make broader declarations of employment status" so all Uber drivers "do not, as a result of this judgement, instantly become employees."
Even though the verdict was welcomed by the Uber employees, Uber has said it would challenge it. The ride-hailing company plans to file an appeal against the judgement designating four of its drivers as employees as opposed to independent contractors. Uber stated that it was "too soon to speculate" on how New Zealand drivers getting employee status would affect the company's operations in the nation.
The union representing the four drivers filed the case in July 2021, seeking a determination that they are Uber employees and are entitled to the rights and protections provided by New Zealand employment law. These privileges include the ability to contest an unfair dismissal, the ability to join a union and engage in collective bargaining, the minimum wage, guaranteed hours, holiday pay, sick leave, and KiwiSaver contributions. Notably, this decision by the New Zealand court is in line with precedents set by cases in the UK and France. In order to defend their rights as employees, many people from all over the world have sued corporations involved in the gig economy. Drivers are employed by Uber, one of the largest ride-sharing businesses in the world today, as independent contractors. As a result, the drivers are not eligible for benefits such as overtime pay, insurance, or the minimum wage.