Alabama, Georgia lawmakers make Uber, Grubhub drivers impartial contractors

Alabama and Georgia are poised to join those states’ ranks in clarifying that drivers for Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, and other delivery and ridesharing apps should be considered independent contractors, not employees with workers’ compensation and other benefits.

The Georgia Senate on Monday unanimously approved House Bill 389 and sent it to the governor. The bill states that a worker is considered an employee unless he or she has some degree of control over the work. To be considered an independent contractor, the employee must, among other things, not be restricted from working for other companies and must not be prescribed working hours.

The bill, drafted by Rep. Todd Jones and others, also provides penalties for companies that break the rules.

Late last week, the Alabama Senate passed a revised version of Senate Bill 150 and sent it a second time for Gov. Kay Ivey to sign. Lawmakers passed the law in March, but the governor requested some changes, including a rule that the driver would not be responsible for motor vehicle liability insurance.

After approving Ivey’s amendments, the House and Senate approved the bill on Thursday. The governor is expected to sign it soon.

The two bills make Alabama and Georgia two of several states that define rideshare and delivery drivers as independent contractors. The companies have said the clarification benefits workers as much as it does app-based platforms.

“This law gives app-based workers what they want — the flexibility to work whenever and wherever suits them best,” an Uber spokesman said in a statement Tuesday. “We are glad that the overwhelming majority of lawmakers have put the interests of drivers and couriers first and passed such important legislation.”

Orr

Uber, Lyft, and Handy began pushing for the laws in several Southern states in 2018, as did California, New York, and a few other legislatures, which passed legislation that made most drivers and other gig workers employees, eligible for work bonuses, and others had achievements.

SB 150 would “provide for the definition of ’employment’ to exclude certain marketplace contractors working for certain marketplace platforms such as Uber, Grubhub, Lyft, Waitr, etc. to clarify that such workers are not employees under state law, but instead act as independent contractors,” reads a summary of the bill.

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