In a decision that may encourage Uber drivers in other countries to approach courts, the South African Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) ruled Uber drivers in the country were not independent contractors but are full-time employees.

As a result, this means that these drivers will be given the full protection of the Labour Relations Act which includes strict rules on hours worked, payment and leave time. It also offers a number of protections regarding correct dismissal procedures and provides for the right to organise and strike.

Reacting to the ruling, Bradley Conradie, an Uber South Africa Legal Representative said: “The CCMA, however, was confronted with the problem that these cases couldn’t be heard because Uber insisted that they are not employees, and that they are rather independent contractors, and that they cannot be involved in any dispute in the CCMA. So, what the award has done, is it unpacked the respective parties views on what the relationship is, and it has concluded that the Uber drivers are in fact employees.”

Interestingly, the ruling comes almost a year after several hundred Uber drivers in South Africa became members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) as they felt they were being exploited by ride-hailing platform.