Recently, Courts in the United States and the United Kingdom have received claims from Uber drivers in excess of millions of dollars, for unpaid wages and other entitlements. At the core of the drivers’ claims against Uber is that they were paid as contractors, not employees. Under Australian Law, employees are entitled to receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where as contractors are generally not. Whether a member of staff is an employee or contractor is a question of law. By simply calling a member of staff a contractor (innocently or deliberately to avoid having to pay those entitlements) does not mean that the staff member will be considered by the Courts (and other Government departments such as the Australian Tax Office) as such. The penalties for treating a member of staff as a contractor when they are really an employee can be severe, and in some cases can cripple a business.
If you are concerned that:
- Your business may have been treating employees as contractors; or
- A contractor has made a claim (or will try to make a claim) against your business for unpaid entitlements where you genuinely believe that that person is a contractor and not an employee,
it is essential that you seek professional legal advice from a lawyer immediately. Uber could have avoided the stress, cost and embarrassment of the litigation if they had sought such advice before hiring their drivers!
This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.