Employee vs Independent Contractor – What Do Drivers Really Want?
Drivers are the core of any rideshare business. However, they are also at the heart of the debate over a bill approved by California’s legislature, A.B. 5, which aims to solidify gig workers’ legal status as employees.
So far both Lyft and Uber have been classifying drivers as independent contractors. A.B.5 is intended to help drivers by creating a set of criteria under which Uber or Lyft drivers could be considered employees of those companies, and therefore entitled to the benefits and protections of employees.
However, some drivers are actually against it. It appears that one of the main reasons they they value this work is flexibility. This flexibility and that feeling of not having a boss makes ride-hail driving stand out in the vast array of service jobs and low-wage work. Many of them are actually afraid that if they switch from being independent contractors to employees this flexibility will be lost.
If someone ignores what Uber and Lyft are telling drivers, there is nothing in the text of A.B. 5 that would take that flexibility away. And yet, many drivers are worried that they will lose it.
Uber and Lyft are currently digging in for a long legal battle, and it’s clear that they will do everything in their power to prevent having to pay drivers like employees.
Throughout the years Lyft and Uber have taken away a lot of the flexibility that made driving for them so great. They now use software and algorithms that share information selectively with drivers, giving drivers incentives to work when and where the companies want them to. This allows the companies to have more control over drivers and maximize their own revenue, not the drivers’ pay.
By exerting various elements of control over their drives, Uber and Lyft are the ones treating drivers like employees, more so than any law could ever do.
For full-time drivers, things are really tough. They don’t get to take advantage of the flexibility that ridesharing driving affords. They’re essentially working an employee-like schedule, but without any of the protections. That means no minimum wage, no unemployment insurance, no benefits and no workers’ compensation.