- REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Two Uber drivers have been ruled eligible for unemployment payments as employees instead of independent contractors, marking a big win for workers in the gig economy.
The New York Times reports that the two drivers received a ruling in August and September from the New York State Department of Labor, which states that the two drivers can receive unemployment payments, something not typically available to independent contractors.
According to the Times, this ruling applies “only to their unemployment insurance claims and do not directly affect other drivers or extend to other protections normally accorded employees.”
The labor board has issued rulings in the past that run contrary to this one, and the board’s decisions are on a case by case basis.
But the ruling could be a step toward changing how drivers are classified, an issue that has plagued Uber and other companies in the on-demand space for years. If drivers can be classified as employees in this instance, advocates may start pushing for further changes to the way drivers are classified by companies in the on-demand space.
“As employees, drivers would lose the personal flexibility they value most – they would have set shifts, earn a fixed hourly wage, and be unable to use other ridesharing apps,” Uber wrote in a statement. “While the Department of Labor has ruled that several drivers are independent contractors, we have appealed the other determinations.”