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Hysterical reaction to Uber (gig) drivers not being employees. ATO wake-up call

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Earlier this month the Fair Work Ombudsman released a statement that, after a two-year investigation, it has concluded that drivers working through Uber are not employees.

The Transport Workers Union described the decision as ‘…devastating for workers in the gig economy’. One academic said the decision was ‘very disappointing’.

We disagree. The Fair Work Ombudsman’s decision is consistent with a highly detailed investigation and legal ruling on Uber drivers by the Fair Work Commission in December 2017.

We have a message for the labour movement and its apologists: Wake up! The world has changed. By their actions people demonstrate that they want to be independent and control their own working lives. The worker vs bosses war is irrelevant to most people. Read the tea leaves from the recent federal election. You’re flogging a horse that will kick you! Our message is equally directed to the Australian Taxation Office: We reckon that you’re breaching the law!

So, after getting our ‘rant in reply’ out of our system, let’s look at the facts.

There’s a big push from the Victorian Labor government, the unions, some academics and many in the federal bureaucracy (particularly the ATO) to clamp down on or stop the gig economy. They have similar motivations in our view. They don’t like, understand or accept that independent work can actually exist. They are obsessed with controlling all work.

But independent work is a legal, economic and behavioural fact discovered and found in clear, established processes of investigation. There is no mystery or confusion about this. Unless it’s confusion created by those who want to stop it. (Oooops. I think we are still ranting!!!)

The Uber decision matches those facts. Proper investigative process was followed by the Fair Work Commission and, it would appear, the Fair Work Ombudsman. On the basis of the facts, Uber (gig) drivers are engaged in independent work.

It’s important to base analysis on facts. We’ve put together an analysis of the facts and issues relating to the Uber/gig economy issue. It covers:
And we have a message for the ATO. In our experience the ATO demonstrates gross incompetence in its investigations and analysis of who is an ‘enterprise’ for the purposes of ABN allocation. The ATO needs to learn from the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman and become competent in this area.
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