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Brazil Federal Court Rules Uber Drivers Are Not Employees

Brazil Federal Court Rules Uber Drivers Are Not Employees
In a sharp contrast to rulings by courts in Europe - specifically in the United Kingdom, about the status of drivers of the United States based ride haling company Uber, a higher court for labor in Brazil has ruled that the drivers were not employees of the company as it found no employment relationship between the drivers and Uber. The case was reportedly filed by a driver in Sao Paulo demanding recognition as an employee and thereby associated perks and benefits attributable for an employee.
Arguing that it is possible for drivers of Uber to disconnect themselves from the company any time that they wanted to through the app of the company and thereby avail a flexible work scheduled, the federal judge in Brasilia ruled against the demand for recognizing an employer-employee link between Uber and its drivers.
A federal court deciding on a labour matter involving Uber is not common in Brazil because such issues have been typically looked after by lower courts till now. Analysts now expect that the ruling of the federal court will now become a standard even though the ruling is not binding for other similar cases.
Uber welcomed the decision and said in a statement that the latest decision was supporting the dozens of previous decisions in Brazilian courts that basically ruled that Uber’s drivers were not the company’s employees. The argument put up in court by Uber was that the platform that the company owns and manages is simply a form of digital intermediary and the company is not an employer. It also argued that the conditions for working on the platform are accepted by drivers when they sign up to join it.
After the United States, Brazil is the second largest biggest market for Uber while Sao Paulo accounts for the largest number of daily rides for the company and even surpasses the numbers for the company in metropolis like New York.
The innovative nature and character of Uber’s app based platform was recognized by the court, the company said, and added that the court also appreciated the fact that the platform only acts as a partner for joining more than 600,000 drivers in over 100 cities in Brazil with more than 22 million people who had downloaded the app and use it to book rides.
Ubers;’ platform provided a wide flexibility for the drivers who use the app to earn money as they are allowed to decide themselves where they want to drive and the number of passengers that they want to serve each day and that such work conditions was "incompatible" with a typical employer-employee relationship, found the federal labor judge, Breno Medeiros.
The relationship of the drivers with Uber can be characterized as a partnership because of the fact that the drivers take home money from each ride at the end of the day where in the daily pay ranged from between 75 per cent to 80 per cent of the total fare, Medeiros said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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