This is an interesting development: there’s clearly an interest served by the announcement but the potential success of this positioning could prove influential if legal challenges to contract labour gain some traction:
Shift, an on-demand startup that helps people buy and sell cars, is looking to make employees out of its contract-based labor force. Almost 100 California-based “car enthusiasts” — what Shift calls the people who do price checks, coordinate inspections, facilitate test drives, and otherwise help with the transaction — are being given the opportunity to join the company as employees, starting December 1.
Use of contract labor by tech companies is a hot topic. Companies including Postmates, Washio, Handy, Lyft and Uber are currently being sued by workers who say they should be receiving the benefits and compensation befitting employees.
Not all on-demand companies use independent contractors — Munchery, WashUp, Alfred and Managed by Q, to name a few, use employees. Still others, such as Shyp, Instacart and Sprig, have announced intentions to transition their workforce from contract-based to employee status.
Another BuzzFeed article gives an excellent overview of a legal challenge currently being mounted by four amazon staff over their status as contract labour:
Amazon contractors — drivers who worked for Prime Now, Amazon’s two-hour local delivery service, and were hired through a third-party contracting company — have proposed a lawsuit against the company, accusing Amazon of misclassifying them as contractors.
The drivers, their lawyer Beth Ross argues, should be classified as employees for a number of reasons, including that they work shifts rather than on a gig basis, have to wear shirts and hats with company branding, and are told by the company where to be and when. In addition, the workers are concerned that the cost of gas, tolls, and other incidental expenditures makes their total income below the legal minimum wage in California. (Amazon advertises that the drivers will make around $20 an hour; the minimum wage in California, where these workers live, is $9.)