New Zealand workers and businesses deserve employment law reform that makes the gig economy work for everyone.

Uber is well known for connecting people across Aotearoa with rides and meals at the press of a button. But what we’re most proud of is being able to create flexible work opportunities for thousands of Kiwis each day. These are jobs giving people the freedom to earn as and when they wish.

Last month, the Employment Court cast a shadow of uncertainty over the way thousands of Kiwis choose to work in the gig economy. While this decision relates only to four workers, it begs a broader question about how to best achieve reforms that protect and benefit workers in a modern economy.

At Uber, we want to improve the benefits for workers in the gig economy. Rather than a series of court decisions that are narrow in scope and do not consider the broader forces shaping modern work, we believe that proper reforms should be debated, agreed and brought into law by Parliament. The goal should be new laws that give workers and businesses the certainty they deserve. That’s why we support the Government’s contractor reform process, and the Employment Court’s decision only highlights how important it is to get change on this front.  

It is also critically important that the views of those working in the gig economy are taken into account in any reform process. Nine in 10 drivers who use Uber in New Zealand have told us that flexibility is most important to them when choosing work, and we believe that any employment law reform should allow for independent workers to maintain this autonomy. 

In many countries around the world, Uber is working with unions and governments to establish minimum standards and protections for workers in the gig economy while preserving the independence they tell us they love. In the past year alone, we have struck deals with leading unions in Australia, the UK and Canada, as well as a global partnership with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), to work towards improved standards for drivers and couriers. This progress is recognition that the traditional, binary classification of workers as either “employee” or “contractor” is no longer fit for purpose.  

Today, work looks vastly different than it did even a decade ago, and it’s time the laws governing work evolve to reflect the reality of the times. Rather than squeezing people into traditional employment models, we see a world where the person who delivers your pizza or who picks you up for a night out can enjoy the flexibility of independent work, underpinned by the safety net Kiwis expect. We want this for New Zealand. 

Uber has been working constructively with policymakers throughout the Government’s current reform process. We want to work with the Government, industry, workers and the unions on reform for the gig economy that will deliver meaningful benefits for workers, for consumers and for businesses. We have seen great progress made through this model in other countries and we want to see the same thing for Kiwi workers. 

So, what could minimum standards for the gig economy look like?

While reform looks different across the world, at a fundamental level we believe it should include minimum earnings standards for gig workers while working. This is something Uber and the Transport Workers Union in Australia are actively advocating for right now, as part of the Australian Government’s reform process.  

We acknowledge that reform in the gig economy is a complex area and requires close collaboration between policymakers, unions and businesses and workers themselves. We look forward to advancing this critical conversation and to raise the bar for everyone in the gig economy. 

A solution that works for everyone is in sight. One where people  can continue to enjoy the flexibility that comes from working in the gig economy while benefiting from the protections and standards that Kiwis rightly expect.