Contractor or Employee-Uber Driver-Dukesons Business Law-Employment Lawyer-Business Lawyer

February 2021

This Blog isn't legal advice – if you need legal advice on any employment law or business law or commercial law issue, please contact me. I'm business lawyer (commercial lawyer) in Auckland who provides advice on employment law as an employment lawyer.

In Arachchige v Rasier New Zealand Limited and Uber B.V, the Employment Court decided that a Uber driver was a contractor and not an employee.

Uber terminated the driver’s access to its app. The driver asserted that he was an employee and wanted to pursue a personal grievance. Factors that he pointed to included the fact that Uber set the passenger fare, that Uber ran a driver rating system (by passengers) and provided for a complaints process and assumed losses where a driver wasn’t at fault, and that there were qualification requirements and performance expectations.

The driver had been a Uber driver for 4 years. Prior to this, he had been a self-employed taxi driver - he therefore had some knowledge of what being a contractor involves. Factors that Uber successfully argued showed that, overall, the driver was a contractor included that the fact that the contract said that the driver was a contractor (this factor is far from conclusive on its own) and that the driver:

  • could determine how long he provided services,
  • provided all equipment and tools,
  • was responsible for his own tax obligations,
  • could determine what vehicle he would use, when he would work and where he would work,
  • could work for others including competitors,
  • could become a Uber driver provided that he satisfied some basic criteria – there was no limit to the number of potential Uber drivers and no recruitment process,
  • was not obligated to display a Uber logo or any Uber signage'
  • had, over the years, accepted many passengers and rejected some,
  • had cancelled some requests for trips, despite having accepted the requests.

Compared to the driver in a recent courier case (Leota), the Uber driver had considerable flexibility and Uber exercised considerably less control than had the courier company. As noted above, the uber driver had previously been self employed as a taxi driver and could therefore be presumed to have some understanding of the difference between an employee and a contractor, something that couldn't be said in the courier driver case. The result of the case isn't surprising to an employment lawyer.

Please:

  • contact me if I can help you with any employment law or other business law or commercial law issue;
  • subscribe to update alerts (if you don't already get them);
  • feel free to forward a link to this blog to anyone who would be interested.
Back to list

2 Enfield Street, Mt Eden, Auckland 1024. PO Box 946, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140.
Telephone: +64 9 379 4556 Mobile: 021 404 306. Fax: +64 9 379 4557 Email: steve@dukesons.co.nz