Riders in Bangkok seek legal protection

Ride-Hailing Services

Currently the demand for ride-hailing services is mushrooming, drivers (or gig workers) have intensified for owners of platforms to offer welfare protection. Drivers of the online service application are usually regarded as a “Hire of Work” rather than a “Hire of Service”. Some ride-hailing platform operators legally classify their drivers as “partners” in order to avoid paying into the social security fund. Because most drivers are paid a piece-rate fee for each delivery, and there is no guarantee of consistent work, therefore, the nature of ride-hailing businesses and how they handle their partners raises concerns about
job protections and working conditions.

Governments across the world are striving to solve these concerns. Thailand, like many other countries, is plagued by outdated labour laws that do not effectively protect employees. Gig workers are not covered by the traditional social protection plan, according to the Social Security Act B.E. 2533 (1990), and instead, receive only partial protection as voluntarily insured individuals.

While Thailand is dealing with this issue, the UK Supreme Court (“Court”) has recently decided the status of Uber drivers in Uber BV v Aslam [2021] UKSC 5 case. The Court upheld a judgment that a group of drivers using the Uber app should be classified as employees and entitled to legal rights and protections. Thousands of Uber drivers are eligible for minimum wage and holiday pay as a result of the judgment.

The Court focused on investigating Uber London’s degree of control over the drivers, the regulatory reasons of Uber London, and the truth about working circumstances, and concluded that when Uber accepted a booking from a passenger, Uber did so as principal rather than as an agent, in order to create a contract between the customer and the driver. To be more specific, a driver who use the Uber app enters into a contract with the operator for providing driving services for Uber. Furthermore, Uber sets the trip for all bookings and can sanction drivers who cancel too many rides. Uber also monitors a driver’s performance through the rating system and has the right to terminate the agreement if a driver does not improve performance after numerous warnings.

Taking all of these criteria into account, the Court concluded that the ride-hailing services were supervised by Uber and drivers were in a position of subordination. Although the drivers had the flexibility to decide when and where they worked, it was the case that at times when they were working as drivers, they were in fact employees for and under contracts with Uber London. The case on Uber of the Court may lead to amendment to Labour Protection Act of Thailand.


Legal Insight Vol. June 2021 of Bangkok Global Law 

The PDF file can be downloaded via the link as set below. 

Riders in Bangkok seek legal protection_Bangkok Global Law