Uber comes out on top in Fair Work investigation

Uber comes out on top in Fair Work investigation

The results of an investigation conducted by the Fair Work Ombudsman is sure to have Uber smiling, with the watchdog confirming that Uber is not an "employer" in the traditional sense.

The investigation was launched to determine whether Uber's Australian operations could be considered as that of an employer, the natural result meaning the Uber drivers would be considered "employees" and thus protected by Australian employment law.

The ombudsman has determined that the relationship between Uber Australia and its drivers is not an employment relationship.

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, Australian courts have previously determined that for an employment relationship to exist there must be, at minimum, an obligation for employees to perform work when it is demanded by the employer.

After looking through a wide range of evidence, including contracts, driving logs, interviews with drivers & Uber itself, and payment statements, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker says the investigation did not find that an employment relationship exists between drivers and Uber.

"Uber Australia drivers have control over whether, when, and for how long they perform work, on any given day or on any given week," says Parker.

"Uber Australia does not require drivers to perform work at particular times and this was a key factor in our assessment that the commercial arrangement between the company and the drivers does not amount to an employment relationship."

Parker stressed that this conclusion relates explicitly to the nature of relationship Uber has with its driver partners and does not extend to the gig economy more generally.

"Companies in the gig economy use a range of business models and the Fair Work Ombudsman will continue to assess allegations of non-compliance on a case-by-case basis. Anyone with concerns about their employment arrangements should contact the FWO," says the Fair Work Ombudsman.

As a result of the investigation the Fair Work Ombudsman says it will not take any compliance action against Uber.

Uber is currently the target of what could be Australia's largest class action ever.

Maurice Blackburn is taking on the ride sharing giant on behalf of thousands of taxi drivers that are holding Uber accountable for "destroying their livelihoods".

Read More: Taxi drivers take on Uber in large scale class action

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