According to a June order from the Public Utilities Commission of the State of California, Uber, Lyft and other Transportation Network Company (TNC) drivers are now presumed to be employees in California. This is the latest development in an ongoing battle over the classification of gig workers, and the ramifications may not be limited to the two ridesharing companies or even to the state.
AB5 and Worker Classification
In explaining the justification behind the new order, the Commission described the impact of AB5 on TNCs. AB5 is a new California law that went into effect on January 1, 2020. It says that a worker should be considered an employee, and not an independent contractor, unless three conditions can be met:
A. The worker is free from the direction and control of the hiring entity.
B. The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.
C. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business that is of the same nature as the work being performed.
Some TNCs claim that they meet the three requirements of the so-called ABC rule. However, on May 5, 2020, a suit was filed against Uber and Lyft over misclassification.
According to the order, Uber and Lyft have gotten a measure that would exclude app-based drivers from AB5 on the November 2020 ballot. Nevertheless, the Commission asserted its right to enforce the current law, which it interprets as classifying TNC drivers as employees.