Top French court says Uber driver SHOULD be recognised as an employee

The French Court of Cassation has decided to reclassify the contractual relationship between Uber and one of its drivers as an ‘employment contract’.

The ruling today at one of France’s top courts has paved the way for other drivers on the transportation app to claim more workers' rights.

In a statement released by the French Court of Cassation, they state: “When connecting to the Uber digital platform, a relationship of subordination is established between the driver and the company.

“Hence, the driver does not provide services as a self-employed person, but as an employee.”

The statement by the Court of Cassation went on to add: “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.

“Conversely, in the context of an employment contract, the relationship of subordination is based on the employer's power to give instructions, to oversee their execution and to sanction non-compliance with the instructions given.

“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.

“In addition, if the driver has declined more than three rides, Uber may temporarily disconnect the driver from its application. In cases where an order cancellation rate is exceeded or if "problematic behaviour" is reported, the driver may lose access to his/her account.

“Lastly, the driver participates in an organised transportation service for which Uber unilaterally determines its terms and conditions.

“Thus, all of these elements characterise the existence of a relationship of subordination between the company Uber and the driver when connecting to the digital platform, the driver’s self-employed status being merely fictitious.

“The fact that the driver is not obliged to connect to the platform and that this absence of connection, irrespective of its duration, does not expose the driver to any penalty, are not taken into consideration when characterising the relationship of subordination.”

Ride-hailing firm Uber also face similar employment rights issues in the UK.

The GMB Union have scored multiple legal wins asking for drivers to be treated as workers, but the legal appeals process continues.

In January 2019, the Court of Appeal in London rejected Uber’s appeal against two previous court rulings that their drivers work for them and are not self-employed, contractors or ‘business partners’.

Uber will attempt a fourth appeal, this time at the Supreme Court later this year.

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