According to a decision from the California court of Appeals, Lyft and Uber must class their drivers as employees going forward, rather than contractors.
This is considered a big win for gig economy workers, and it follows similar rulings, including a landmark court case in the UK in 2018. Although the companies won’t give in easily, workers are determined to change the way they are treated in the future.
The judges in this latest case ruled that, in their opinion, it’s in the public’s interest to change the rules that Uber and Lyft must follow, rather than to protect the businesses’ shareholders.
In a report by the Sacramento Bee, it was noted that the court said, “When violation of statutory workplace protections takes place on a massive scale, as alleged in this case, it causes public harm over and above the private financial interest of any given individual.”
What do campaigners say?
Those campaigning for changing the status of Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as contractors in similar industries, say that there are many benefits to doing this.
For example, it would provide drivers with guaranteed earnings and provide drivers with benefits like sick pay, holiday pay,healthcare and access to the minimum wage. They say it would also boost public safety and benefit smaller businesses in the local area.
It would also mean that the companies would no longer be able to profit from their own self-declared exemption to the law.
What happens next?
Uber and Lyft have both spent the last few years appealing their case – that they should not be required to treat their drivers as employees. So far, they have spent an estimated $200 million campaigning in favor of keeping drivers as independent contractors.
This ruling will be a big hit to them, although both have threatened to take further action, including potentially leaving California.
It’s also important to note that the companies will face further votes, and this could potentially end up going back to the court. If they choose to appeal the decision, it will be taken to the California Supreme Court.