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Should Uber Drivers Be Employees? A Tricky Question

If you don’t drive for Uber, you’re likely a rider. In the past decade, ridesharing has gone mainstream. A recent U.K. Supreme Court ruling says that Uber drivers will no longer be considered independent contractors. As “workers,” they’ll be getting more benefits, such as minimum wage, paid holiday, and other legal protections. Let’s explore how this affects the gig economy and, ultimately, all rideshare customers.

The benefits of being an independent contractor

The gig economy is everywhere, and it’s still growing because the pandemic is forcing people to figure out new ways to make money. That means more people are working as freelancers and independent contractors

Up until recently, Uber drivers have been cool with this arrangement. They set their own hours, essentially acting as their own boss. And the company benefits as well; they don’t have to pay salaries, give paid time-off or give traditional workplace benefits. As a result, they can keep their prices competitive. It’s a win-win.

Even now, a lot of drivers are fine with the gig economy. And in the past few years, Uber has been moving toward more control and protection for their freelancers. 

Effects of the new employee status

But some workers are still fighting for employee status. One of the justices in the U.K. says that “drivers are in a position of subordination and dependency in relation to Uber,” meaning the company should take more responsibility for their well-being. Could this ruling set a precedent for other countries to follow?

Verge reported that this U.K. ruling could affect not only Uber drivers but also nearly 4.7 million gig economy workers. With Uber spending more money, will this cause ride prices to go up? Higher prices may cause many of us to rethink our dependence on ridesharing apps, causing an even lower demand. We’ll see how this decision plays out in the U.K.

Check out the video to hear Morgan Zegers and James Felton Keith debate this topic.

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