Switzerland high court rules Uber drivers are employees, entitled to benefits

The Swiss Federal Supreme Court Friday upheld a ruling to classifying Uber drivers as employees and according them all the rights and benefits given to employees in Switzerland. Uber appealed the 2019 ruling by a lower court guaranteeing Uber drivers the right to workers compensation insurance and collective bargaining.

In the judgement, the court dismissed Uber’s argument that they are, “only… an intermediary between passengers and drivers,” because Uber “entirely dictates the pricing conditions, controls [drivers’] activity and invoices the services to the customers.” The court also ordered Uber to pay 5,000 francs to the enforcement agency for labor law in Switzerland to cover their court costs. 

Courts in other countries have taken issue with Uber’s employment structure. In February 2021, a UK high court ruled in favor of Uber drivers who sued in order to receive employee classification. Uber responded to these rulings by touting the benefits of a contractor-based system, saying:

Drivers told us that they wanted protections such as free insurance to cover sickness or injury, but not at the cost of flexibility. They want to remain independent, accessing flexible earnings opportunities when they want it, and protection and benefits when they need it. Nearly 90% say that this flexibility is the most important reason they use the Uber app to earn.

In California, Uber partnered with fellow gig-based apps Lyft and Instacart to spend over $200 million in support of Proposition 22. The measure proposed classifying gig workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Critics accused the companies using “deceptive advertising” to pass the proposition; according to the National Employment Law Project, “one survey of California voters founds that 40 percent of ‘yes’ voters thought they were supporting gig workers’ ability to earn a living wage.” While Prop 22 won at the polls, a California court declared it unconstitutional in September 2021.