The driver that picks you up in an Uber car has always been an independent contractor - until now.
Even though Uber drivers provide their own vehicles and choose their own hours, the state of Oregon has just ruled that they are still considered employees of the ride-sharing company. According to a report from Oregon Live, the Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Vakian issued an advisory opinion on Wednesday stating that Uber drivers are not independent contractors, but employees.
Avakian said that his opinion was merely a “helpful explanation” to the company on his interpretation of current Oregon labor laws. The opinion will not serve as an injunction, and Uber will not be required to cease any activity as a result.
The new stance sends a clear message to Uber, however. A case brought against the company over workers rights and compensation may be successful, and Avakian alleged that the company isn’t currently paying any payroll taxes for its drivers. It also does not reimburse driver expenses or pay into the workers compensation system.
Avakian said, “I’m hoping that before anything like that happens, that this opinion will be helpful to Uber and other similar companies in knowing how Oregon’s law could be applied.”
According to Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend, “The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries issued this opinion without talking to any drivers and after a brief five minute phone call with Uber that came out of the blue. Unsurprisingly, it’s full of assertions that are plain wrong. It’s disappointing that a public body would have so little regard for the facts.”