Labour protections are afforded to those workers who conform to the definition of an “employee”. In 2021, society is reaching the zenith of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where there is a strong amalgamation between physical labour and technology.
Given the concomitant rise in atypical forms of work, the courts are faced with legal challenges of recognising atypical workers as “employees” and whether or not they are entitled to basic labour protections. The ultimate purpose of labour law is to strive for economic growth, while attaining social justice.
The core elements of what constitutes an “employee” are shuddered in murky waters as atypical workers operate within both arenas of an “employee” and “independent contractor”. It is of utmost importance to realign the legal framework with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in order to protect workers who are vulnerable, especially those who operate in the grey areas of labour law. This study will evaluate the notion of an “employee” and whether or not Uber drivers should be recognised as employees in South Africa, given that Uber seems to have strong supervision and control over their Uber drivers.
This study will address the grey areas of labour law, prompted by modern business models such as Uber and address the narrow approach of interpretation adopted by the Labour Court in recent decisions involving Uber South Africa. Moreover, this study will delve into comparative research and address the lessons that can be learnt concerning Uber and their Uber drivers in the United Kingdom and United States of America. Alternatives to recognising Uber drivers as employees will be considered.
The author aspires that this research will provoke legal minds to engage more with the complex capacities of labour law and labour peace.
Dissertation (LLM) --University of Pretoria, 2021.