Modern employer-employee relationship

Published by: Sebastian van den Brink posted on 13 September 2021 reading time

Today, the subdistrict courts in Amsterdam ruled that Uber drivers are employees and fall under the Collective Labour Agreement for Taxi Transport. See the ruling here.

This ruling is the next chapter in the book of rulings on platform employers. Earlier, online platforms Helpling (cleaning) and Deliveroo (food delivery) have been scrutinised. The key question in each case was whether an employment contract had been concluded between the platform and the cleaner/deliverer/taxi-driver. This was not the case with Helping, but it was with Deliveroo. 2-1 for the workers so far.

Authority of the algorithm

In the Uber and Deliveroo judgement, the judges consider the operation of the algorithm used by the platform to distribute and offer work. These algorithms steer the users (the deliverers or drivers) by rewarding and punishing the choices the users make.

The Uber ruling even speaks of a "modern relationship of authority". The court established that Uber imposes its priorities on the drivers by means of the app. The algorithm determines which rides are offered to which drivers and limits the available information, so that the drivers cannot select only the most favourable rides.

In addition, the court also assumes that the Uber app has a certain disciplining effect on the drivers. The rating system influences the access drivers have to the platform and the rides they are offered. Uber itself stated that it can quite easily adjust these settings in order to influence the drivers' behaviour.

The court concludes that by means of a financial incentive, the algorithm has a disciplining and instructive effect. The drivers fall under the modern employer authority of Uber. The court therefore concludes that there must be an employment contract between the drivers and Uber.

To be continued

Uber has already announced that it will appeal against the judgment of the Court of Amsterdam. The book on platform labour will therefore continue to add chapters in the years to come and we will continue to inform you about this.

For questions on all types of employment relationships, please contact our specialists.