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Workers? comp benefits could apply to Uber and Lyft drivers

You may have heard of ride-sharing services, companies like Uber and Lyft, which have cropped up in recent years as an alternative to hailing a cab or calling a friend for transportation. You may not have ever wondered about the driver behind the steering wheel in these cars, but the terms of their employment have been raising questions recently in California. The answers to these questions could affect drivers and employees all across the country, including those in New York.

Drivers who work for Uber and Lyft are classified as contractors, which allows the company that employs them to save costs on many things, including fuel and auto insurance, which currently come out of the drivers? pockets. One of the most important benefits that these contracted drivers are denied because of their label is workers? compensation. Because these drivers are technically not employees, the ride-share companies do not have to provide workers? compensation benefits in the event that a driver is injured on the job.

The topic is still being heavily debated in courts, and with the transcripts being sealed, it is impossible to tell which way the wind is currently blowing. Many say that such business practices are not looked upon favorably in California, and thus the drivers are likely to be labeled as employees in the future. Others feel that the argument is not persuasive.

Regardless of the final ruling, this distinction between contractor and employee is an important one to make. If the drivers are ruled as employees, Uber and Lyft employees all across the country would likely be able to take advantage of workers? compensation benefits. Consider your own employment circumstances, and be sure that you are receiving the treatment you deserve as a worker.

Source: Business Insurance, "Uber, Lyft could be forced to provide drivers with workers comp benefits," Sheena Harrison, Feb. 15, 2015

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