This column is an opinion by Binyam Asress, a full-time Uber driver in Calgary who additionally posts content material on Tiktok about his experiences with app-based work. For extra details about CBC’s Opinion part, please see the FAQ.
There was wholesome debate round whether or not ride-hailing platforms ought to rent drivers as staff or preserve interacting with them as unbiased contractors. This dialog got here to a head lately when Uber rolled out the Versatile Work+ plan — a proposal to modernize app-based work in Canada, whereas preserving flexibility.
There have been some unfavourable reactions to the proposal, with many critics saying that drivers and supply folks deserve worker standing with advantages.
However take it from a driver working with Uber, this plan may very well be a recreation changer for drivers and supply folks on the app.
To begin, it is essential to unpack the distinction between worker and unbiased contractor.
Staff are on a schedule set by their employer, with out a lot freedom to vary issues of their itinerary from everyday. They’re obligated to take care of the pursuits of their employer throughout firm time, even on the expense of demanding circumstances of their private lives. An worker might get a name from a sick youngster or have an emergency involving an aged father or mother, for instance, however they need to nonetheless fulfil their job necessities throughout a set shift. Even essentially the most versatile of jobs has a begin and finish time, and a minimal variety of hours to work.
Working with a ride-booking firm as an unbiased contractor, by comparability, is being your individual boss. There’s management over when, the place and the way lengthy to work, whereas nonetheless facilitating different enterprise alternatives or spending time with household.
For a lot of drivers, having that independence and autonomy over their very own schedule is a web constructive, particularly since many use it as part-time, momentary or seasonal work.
If the mannequin had been to vary to imitate an worker setup, this is able to rework the very motive that drivers look to app-based work — to assist a versatile way of life.
Why does flexibility matter?
Flexibility is a profit in and of itself. Drivers and supply individuals who work with Uber and different platforms select once they log on, and which journeys they settle for or reject. For me, working with Uber was the primary incomes alternative that supplied for my household and allowed me management over my precedence investments, like constructing my private model on social media.
In an Uber-commissioned Ipsos survey despatched to 670 drivers in October 2020, 85 per cent of respondents stated that they might not drive or ship if it did not supply a versatile schedule. So whereas it could appear easy to provide drivers an worker standing and corresponding advantages, the truth is that this is able to additionally impose issues like specified work hours that would restrict the flexibility to work flexibly.
Below the proposed Versatile Work+ plan, drivers would have the ability to retain their independence and management, with the added safety of getting a advantages fund that provides assist for prescriptions, dental care, or issues like tuition bills.
The proposal is step one in creating a greater working alternative for drivers, whereas defending flexibility — the core tenet of app-based work.
This previous yr has been troublesome for ride-booking drivers. It has created uncertainty and it has been onerous to know the best occasions to be on the highway, when most individuals are staying indoors. Nonetheless, drivers have stepped up daily to assist Canadians make important journeys, or ship important meals and objects. That is the best time to discover a resolution that works to assist these unbiased contractors.
The Versatile Work+ proposal is a welcome step, and one value exploring if it means higher advantages and protections for drivers.
Being an unbiased contractor is not good, or for everybody. There may be room for enchancment, and there’s a approach to mix flexibility with advantages to supply app-based staff a greater future.