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Switzerland joins UK in declaring Uber drivers employees, not contractors

Thu 5 Jan 2017

Switzerland Uber

Uber drivers in Switzerland are employees and the U.S. ride-hailing firm is responsible for paying social security contributions, says a new ruling by a Swiss insurance agency.

The Swiss insurance agency Suva, which provides obligatory on-the-job accident insurance, is the latest body to join those declaring Uber drivers as staff. The group made the decision noting that drivers are reprimanded if they do not meet Uber’s rules, and are not permitted to set their own pricing or payment terms.

While labour representatives welcomed the ruling, Uber’s Swiss CEO Rasoul Jalali commented that the Suva decision was far from a final call on the issue. “If we cannot find an agreement with Suva, we will have to rely on the courts,” he said.

Hit by similar decisions worldwide, the U.S. company has faced numerous legal attacks against its argument that Uber drivers are freelance contractors rather than employees. Consequently, many countries have accused the tech firm of avoiding national labour standards and averting responsibility for its workforce.

Late in 2016, Uber faced particular resistance in the UK, losing the right to classify its British drivers as self-employed. In October, a British employment court ruled that Uber drivers are employees and that they should be paid the national living wage.

A further case in California saw the local labour commission state that Uber is not a ‘neutral technology platform’ and is therefore not able to absent itself from responsibility for the drivers which provide its services. The court ruled that Uber was an employer and also mandated that it was subject to meet all the related obligations such as paying for employee compensation, unemployment insurance and social security.

Alongside battles over labour standards, Uber also faces frequent legal opposition for a wide range of its operations, including safety, surge pricing structures and accessibility.


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