Uber drivers in France are employees and not self-employed, the country’s highest court has confirmed.
The landmark ruling, which confirms the Paris Court of Appeal’s January 2019 finding that Uber drivers have employee status, could also have ramifications for other gig economy companies across France.
The Cour de Cassation agreed that an Uber driver could not qualify as a self-employed contractor as they cannot not build their own client base, set their own prices, or develop their own terms and conditions.
It found that as soon as a driver connects to the Uber platform a “relationship of subordination” is established between the driver and the company, which makes them an employee.
French law has only two worker statuses, employed and self-employed, unlike the UK which also has a “worker” status.
The court said a “relationship of subordination” is based on the employer’s power to give instructions, to oversee their execution and to sanction any non-compliance.
The case was brought by a driver whose account was permanently closed by Uber. It first went to the industrial tribunal, but its decision was overturned by France’s Court of Appeal and later the Court de Cassation.
The court said: “Drivers who use the Uber application do not build up their own clientele, do not freely set their rates, and do not determine the terms and conditions of providing their transportation service.
“The company imposes the itinerary and the driver’s fare is adjusted if this itinerary is not followed. The destination is unknown to the driver, thereby revealing that the driver cannot freely choose the route that suits him/her. In addition, if the driver has declined more than three rides, Uber may temporarily disconnect the driver from its application.
“In cases where an order cancellation rate is exceeded or if ‘problematic behaviour’ is reported, the driver may lose access to his/her account. Lastly, the driver participates in an organised transportation service for which Uber unilaterally determines its terms and conditions.”
The industrial tribunal will now rule on whether the driver is entitled to back pay, compensatory damages for non-compliance with maximum working hours, concealed labour, and dismissal without real and serious grounds.
In the UK, Uber will argue that drivers are self-employed and not workers at a case before the Supreme Court in July. Uber drivers have been successful at every stage of the legal process in arguing that they are workers and not self-employed.
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