Uber’s Driver Model

Uber drivers were independent contractors rather than regular permanent employees of Uber. As contract workers, they did not receive health benefits, retirement, disability, vacation leave, unemployment or injured workers compensation; they were simply paid for the business they generated driving passengers.12 Uber took a flat percentage commission fee on all fares and in 2015 this fee had been raised: Uber’s cut now ranged from 20% to 30% of the gross fare, depending on the city and the circumstances. Drivers kept the remainder.

Uber did not own its cars; instead, it served as a referral or dispatch system for drivers who drove their own cars. For the company’s UberBlack town car service, the company relied on a network of established, licensed limousine drivers who applied to be part of its system. A growing number of U.S. limousine companies (estimates ranged from 20%-40%) allowed their drivers to participate in Uber.13 To become an UberBlack driver, drivers had to be professional chauffeurs with a commercial license and commercial auto insurance. Their vehicles had to fit Uber’s criteria for black car service. They also had to have clean driving records and undergo background checks at both the state and federal level.

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