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Labour law

2019

Australian federal government wants to make sure that on-demand economy worker pays their fair share of taxes. The Treasury published an industry discussion paper containing proposals for a mandatory regime of taxes for people working in the sector. The measure would include companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and Uber eats, among others. Sharing economy has experienced significant growth in Australia, and authorities are concerned that there is a possibility that some workers do not report their current income to avoid paying the right amount of taxes. The Transportation Workers Union of Australia has condemned the proposal, alleging that, first, the government should consider regulating the on-demand economy to protect workers, including legislation on minimum pay, superannuation, sick leave, and the possibility of collective bargain. 

A court in Brussels ruled that UberX respects the legal requirements in Brussels and can continue to operate in the Capital of Belgium. The judge dismissed the appeal filed by a taxi association claiming that the company unlawfully provides taxi services. According to Lalibre.com, the judge decided that Uber does not provide transportation, does not own any vehicle, and does not need taxi license. In addition, it was ruled that the drivers cannot be considered employed by Uber, because they are free to choose their work time and there is no relation of subordination between the company and the drivers, which is typical of an employment relationship. 

The French Appeal Court ruled a former driver of Uber was effectively an employee of the ride-hailing company. The driver sued Uber after having his account deactivated, depriving him of new reservations. The court decided that his contract should respect French labour regulations. The Parisian appeal court alleged that the registration partnership Uber agreed with the driver gave the company control over the terms of his work. The driver could not choose his clients or decide on his own rates. Uber has argued that it is a service provider and all its drivers are self-employed. The argument that Uber is only a service provider had already been weakened by the CJEU’s ruling, in 2017, which recognised the company as both an online service provider and a transportation company. Uber affirmed it will appeal the decision to the last instance possible in France, the court of cassation, and that the decision could jeopardise Uber’s operations in France.

Regulators are preparing to fix the rates drivers for ride-hailing services receive, after drivers demands for more oversight and higher rates, as reported by Reuters. As part of an attempt to expand sharing economy services in Southeast Asia, two main companies in the sector, Grab and Go-Jek, have been practiced price wars in Indonesia by reducing fares. Since last year, motorcycle taxi drivers working for both ride-hailing companies have held protest rallies calling for improving their working conditions. The Ministry of transportation aims at implementing minimum and maximum tariffs and at imposing limits on promotional price reduction. The companies claim that such measures can create hurdles for their expansion. The working conditions and payment of ride-hailing drivers and riders have drawn attention of regulators worldwide.

The South Korean government held a meeting to discuss required institutional and legal frameworks for emerging sharing economy companies. Shared economy of space, finance, and knowledge were the main sectors debated by government representatives. The government plans to support sharing economy workers, providing that incomes less than 5 million won (USD$5 000) will be subject to simple taxation proceedings and workers will be exempted from aggregated income reporting. Also, workers will be covered for occupational health and safety insurance benefits. The government counts on including freelancers in the IT sector and workers from sharing economy businesses to receive these benefits by 2021. This change will be more inclusive of new categories of workers. The discussion comes amid threats to worker rights in sharing economy businesses across the world.

2018

New York city officials passed the first US minimum pay rate for drivers who work for ride-hailing apps, including Uber, Lyft, Juno, Via and any other similar business model. Drivers are low paid, and the issue is related to the fact that they are independent contractors and not employees. Transportation sharing economies do not need to make sure that drivers earn the minimum wage. Having that in mind, the city council decided that drivers are entitled to make the equivalent of $17,22 an hour after expenses. The measure aims at increasing the quality of their lives. In New York, most drivers work full-time for ride-hailing apps and 18 percent of drivers have so low earnings that they qualify for food stamps. The new regulation attacks the core of transportation sharing economies, which relies on a large number of drivers to be available at any given time, meaning competition for rides is high and drivers must work long hours. The same regulation provides that out of town trips must include payment for returning; higher pay for drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles and prohibition on underpaying drivers on certain trips as part of incentive schemes

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