The equivalent of France’s Supreme Court has held that Uber drivers are employees and are not genuinely self-employed. Whilst technically this judgement is limited to French law, it is likely to be influential in other jurisdictions. Indeed, Uber’s appeal to the Supreme Court is due to be heard later this year.
Uber sought to argue that it acted only as an intermediary, providing booking and payment services via the Uber smartphone app, and that the drivers concluded a contract with each passenger as independent contractors. This was also reflected in the contractual documentation. However, the French court held that the contracts did not correspond with the reality. In fact, drivers had no choice in determining their client base, terms and conditions, or pay and that it was not an accurate to regard Uber as working “for” the drivers.
It was also found that Uber exercised a high degree of control over the drivers.
It is important to note that the fact that an arrangement is structured and documented as a self-employed arrangement, will not be conclusive with regard to employment status. A court will look at the substance of the relationship, rather than the legal form or any labels that the parties have given to the relationship. Therefore, as explained, just because an agreement states that the individual is self-employed, is not determinate and it will depend on what happens on the ground and in practice.