DoorDash, a popular food delivery platform, recently found support in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in its stance that delivery drivers are independent contractors. This decision bears striking similarities to a pivotal judgment concerning the defunct Deliveroo platform, both centering on “control, delegation, and equipment” aspects.
FWC Commissioner Phillip Ryan ruled that the evidence in support of classifying the food delivery driver as an independent contractor outweighs arguments for an employment relationship. He drew parallels to the Deliveroo Australia Pty Ltd v Diego Franco case, wherein the overall verdict swayed towards independent contracting.
Previous rulings like Jamsek and Personnel Contracting made by the High Court last year were cited by Commissioner Ryan. These cases underlined the supremacy of contractual terms over their execution.
Ryan’s determination fits into the broader context of the Albanese Government’s pledge to extend protections for workers demonstrating “employee-like” characteristics. This assurance is paired with DEWR’s consultation initiative from April to authorize the FWC to establish minimum standards and pay rates.
According to the Commissioner, the 2022 agreement between DoorDash and its delivery drivers is a comprehensive, unaltered contract that holds weight. The agreement consistently referred to delivery drivers as independent contractors.
In a dismissal dispute brought before the Commission, the driver maintained that DoorDash engaged her as an employee and then dismissed her by deactivating her account.
Reaffirmation of Contractual Dominance
In the ruling, Commissioner Ryan recognized that DoorDash offered the driver autonomy regarding the where, when, and how of her work, negating any obligation of service performance.
The driver’s power to decide on her delivery assignments, the volume, the mode of transportation, and the route to take were all acknowledged by the Commissioner.
Contrary to the driver’s claims of an obligatory workload to retain a favorable rating on the platform, the Commissioner disagreed. Instead, he cited the ruling in Diego Franco v Deliveroo, which presented these requirements as service performance standards rather than the platform’s control of work execution.
The DoorDash contract permits drivers to employ personnel or subcontractors and extend their delivery services to other businesses. It further relieves drivers of any uniform or logo branding and assigns them the financial responsibility of their vehicles and equipment like thermal food bags.
DoorDash’s remuneration model is based on a per-delivery payment system, with options for increased rates during specific periods or locations.
Commissioner Ryan affirmed the independent contractor classification when he pointed out that the driver’s compensation aligns more with this category than an employment relationship. The contract also excludes typical employment entitlements such as wages, annual leave, personal leave, long service leave, superannuation, and aligns more with a principal and independent contractor relationship.
The only element in favor of an employment relationship was the classification of delivery driving as a skill, but not necessarily a distinct profession, trade, or calling.
Conclusively, the Commissioner dismissed the driver’s application, maintaining that DoorDash hired her as an independent contractor, as per the 2022 agreement.
In 2022, DoorDash negotiated a significant agreement on “core principles” concerning gig economy work, which promises adequate rights and benefits to drivers and a route to dispute resolution.
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