Uber won’t be reclassifying its drivers from independent contractors to employees in light of a new bill that passed in California, largely because the bill doesn’t specifically require them to do so, the company’s chief legal official argued Tuesday.
“Contrary to some of the oratory we’ve heard, AB5 does not automatically reclassify any ride-share drivers from independent contractors to employees,” Tony West, chief legal counsel at Uber, said in a press call with reporters. “AB5 does not provide drivers with benefits. AB5 does not give drivers the right to organize. In fact, the bill currently says nothing about ride-share drivers.”
The bill in question, Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), codifies a recent California Supreme Court ruling that makes it much harder for companies like Uber to classify its drivers as independent contractors. It expresses the so-called “ABC test” for determining whether someone is a contractor or employee. Some form of an ABC test is already law in many states, including Massachusetts, Virginia, and New Jersey.
West said Uber could pass the ABC test because drivers aren’t core to its business. “Under that three-part test, arguably the highest bar is that a company must prove that contractors are doing work ‘outside the usual course’ of its business,” West said. ”Several previous rulings have found that drivers’ work is outside the usual course of Uber’s business, which is serving as a technology platform for several different types of digital marketplaces.”