Uber has lost another legal challenge in Europe over the employment status of drivers: the court in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, ruled that Uber drivers are employees rather than independent contractors.
The court also found that drivers are covered by an existing collective labor agreement in the country – which covers taxi drivers – which means Uber faces increased costs to comply with the agreement that sets salary requirements and covers benefits such as sick pay. (And he can be responsible to reimburse the driver in certain cases.)
The court also ordered Uber to pay € 50,000 in costs.
The carpooling giant has some 4,000 drivers working on its platform in the Dutch capital.
Amsterdam court rejected Uber’s usual defense that it is just a technology platform that connects passengers with taxi service providers, instead ruling that drivers are just self-employed “on paper”.
The judges highlighted the nature of the service provided by the drivers and the fact that Uber exercises controls over how they can work and earn through its app and algorithms.
The highest European court already ruled in 2017 that Uber is a transport provider and must comply with local transport laws – so you would be forgiven for the deja vu.
The Dutch lawsuit was filed by the national trade union center, FNV, last year – with the hearing kicking off at the end of June.
In a statement released today, FNV Vice President Zakaria Boufangacha said: “This statement shows what we have been saying for years: Uber is an employer and drivers are employees, so Uber must join the collective labor agreement for Taxi Transport. It is also a signal to The Hague that these types of constructions are illegal and that the law must therefore be enforced.
Uber has been contacted for a response to the decision.
At the time of writing, the company had not responded – but, according to Reuters, Uber said it intended to appeal and “does not intend to employ drivers at the Netherlands”.
In the UK, Uber lost a series of court rulings over its job classification for a number of years – before losing in the UK Supreme Court in February.
After that, Uber said it would treat drivers in the UK like workers, although disputes remain (such as over its definition of working time). In May, Uber also announced that it would recognize a UK union for the first time.
Elsewhere in Europe, however, the company continues to fight employment lawsuits – and lobby European Union lawmakers to deregulate platform work …
The EU said it wanted to find a way to improve work on platforms. However, it is not yet clear what a pan-European ‘reform’ might look like.
The Commission was contacted with questions about its initiative to work on the platform.
“Digital workplace platforms are clearly worried, evident by investing heavily in their lobbying power and devoting more resources at EU level. These companies – including Uber of course – have also recently come together to create a new fundraising lobby group that specifically aims to influence policies on the work of platforms, ”said Jill toh, a doctoral student in data rights at the University of Amsterdam, talks to TechCrunch after the Amsterdam decision.
“We’ve seen how Uber has used and changed the laws in their Prop 22 campaign in California, and with other companies in Europe they’re trying to do it again. It is disheartening that the Commission, in its two consultations on regulating platform workers, has only spoken to tech companies and has not held any meetings with unions or other representatives of platform labor.
“All of this is incredibly problematic and worrying, especially if the EC consultations result in a directive on platform work. Overall, victories in the courts are important for workers, but there remains the problem of corporate power and influence in Brussels, as well as the lack of public enforcement of these court decisions ”, a- she added.