Union asks Labour Relations Board to have ride-hailing drivers considered as employees

UNITED Food and Commercial Workers local 1518 on Wednesday filed an application to the Labour Relations Board of B.C. to have ride-hailing drivers considered as employees. This would protect them under the labour laws regarding safety and minimum wage.

Labour Minister Harry Bains had told The VOICE last October that ride-hailing companies are not exempt from the province’s labour laws.

This newspaper had asked Bains for his reaction to the BC Federation of Labour’s letter to BC’s Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) outlining why ride-hailing drivers should be classified as employees and have the protection of the Employment Standards Act.

Harry Bains

Bains said: “I, as Minister of Labour, expect all employers in B.C. to comply with our labour laws, including health and safety.”

There are some groups that are exempted from these provisions right now like teachers, accountants and high-tech company employees, but the taxi and ride-hailing services are not.

When The VOICE contacted representatives for Lyft and Uber at the time for their reactions, they failed to get back to us.

Bains said: “So I expect that the labour laws will apply to them and if anyone has any issue with that they can always challenge that at the Employments Standard Branch and the Employments Standard will investigate and make a decision.”

Bains also pointed out that the taxi industry already has a decision by the Employments Standard Branch through the Tribunal that the taxi drivers are employees of the company. Therefore, employment standards apply to them.

He said: “So right now we do not have ride-hailing companies, we don’t have any ride-hailing employees. But where there is an employer-employee relationship, our employment standards apply and health and safety standards apply.”