Superior Labor Court in Brazil favors Uber by declining employment bond among the company and a driver

"There is an urgent need for legislative innovation" minister Douglas Alencar from the Superior Labor Court said in the trial session

Uber application on Samsung S7. Uber Technologies Inc. is an American technology company headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States
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Held this Wednesday, 5, the trial session to decide whether Uber had or not employment bond with a driver from São Paulo, ended favoring the ride-hailing company. Information is from the Brazilian newspaper Estadão.

The firm was facing a lawsuit by an Uber driver that claimed to have all conditions that compose the employment bond. After almost one year using the application, his intention was to register a labor contract and receive the income from the employment relationship. For the judge in charge of the process, the driver had the possibility to go offline whenever he wanted, flexibility in offering his services and choosing working hours. In addition, since drivers receive a range from 75% to 80% of the amount paid by the user, the judge claimed that these high percentages also don’t match the employment bond.

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“The wide flexibility of the worker in managing the routine, the working hours, the places in which he wishes to work and the number of clients he intends to pick per day is incompatible with the recognition of the employment relationship, which has subordination as its basic premise,” explained Minister Breno Medeiros. Uber claimed in the process that it does not work as a transport company, but as a technological platform, in which drivers work as partners, in a shared economy. The ride-hailing company also argued that the driver had previously agreed with the proposed terms and conditions and that the relationship with all partner drivers is uniform.

This is the first time in the country that a federal body deliberates on the case, as up to now, only regional courts have been ruling on this type of employment bond. Although the decision has no binding effect – when lower courts are obliged to follow the decision of a higher court – it is likely to serve as a baseline for similar cases in the future.

“There is an urgent need for legislative innovation,” said minister Douglas Alencar from the Superior Labor Court in the trial session. For the minister, it is impossible to fit this new employment reality in traditional concepts of employee and employer, but this, however, doesn’t mean that these workers don’t deserve any kind of social protection.

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