More on defining Amazon as an ’employer’

This article  adds to the debate about whether crowdsource sites are employers or merely an agent that connects employers or employees. This is a key distinction in employment law that many countries and platforms are struggling with.

The author, a professor of Law at Oxford, states in reference to Uber:

“An increasing number of online resources provide insights into the reality of the relationship between the platform and its drivers: through its app, the platform has close control over the routes drivers are to choose and the prices customers will be charged for each ride. All financial transactions take place via the app, which also sits at the core of Uber’s rating system, enlisting customers to act as the platform’s agents in monitoring worker performance. Even the supposed freedom to work when and as desired is mostly illusionary: ratings are carried from engagement to engagement, and a refusal to accept a series of offers will soon have an impact on a drivers’ ratings.

In my mind, there is therefore little doubt that Uber should be classified as the employer of its drivers, who would therefore be guaranteed access to the core of fundamental worker rights in English law. Even customers will profit from such a decision: well-rested drivers will be much safer, and in the unhappy event of an accident or other problems, they too will be able to assert their claims for reparation against the employing platform.”

Looking at this from the perspective of Amazon as an employer versus agent: Amazon can have control over the work people can complete (by issuing blocks). All financial transactions take place through the platform, as do ratings of workers.  However, Amazon isn’t involved in pricing tasks (other than charging for special demographics), and Amazon doesn’t care about the amount of work the worker does.

 

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