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Is it time to amend Jordan Labour Law

Sep 14,2020 - Last updated at Sep 14,2020

In Jordan, Uber and Careem are the most common digital platform companies that provide and support transportation services. Such companies created many arguable legal and economic dilemmas. Our focus in this article is on whether the so called “Self-Employed Workers on Digital Platforms” (the drivers) should be classified as independent contractors or employees under Jordan Labour Law.

On March 4, 2020, the French Cassation Court has reclassified the relationship between Uber and one of its drivers as an employment contract instead of a self-employed partner. The court ruled that the driver was not free to set fares, build up his own clients or choose his route. Further, Uber could sanction him for refusing rides by temporarily disconnecting him from the application or for refusing three trips by losing his access to his account or if he had been reported for problematic behaviour.

As the Court of Cassation is the supreme court of appeal in the above case, Uber can no longer appeal the decision. This could set a precedent for Uber and many other companies operating marketplaces with self-employed partners in France.

The previously mentioned case raised the question on whether such ruling could be applicable in Jordan or not. Thus, and in order to answer the above question, we need to recognize and analyze what Jordan Labour Law provides.

Article (2) of Jordan Labour Law defines the “Employer”, the “Employee”, “Work Contract”, and “Wage” as follows:

Employer: Every natural person or corporate body that employs, in any capacity whatsoever, a person or more against wages.

Employee: Every person, male or female, who performs a job against wages and  be a subordinate to the Employer and at his service. This covers the juveniles and those under probation or rehabilitation.

Work Contract: An explicit or implicit, verbal or written agreement under which the Employee undertakes to work for the Employer under his supervision and Management against wages. The work contract can be for a limited or unlimited period, specific or non- specific work.

Wage: All cash or in-kind entitlements of the Employee against his work in addition to all other entitlements of whatever type, provided for by the law, work contract or the bylaw or; it has become the practice to pay same except the wages payable for overtime work.

The above definitions clarify that a person shall be considered as an “employee” if the following conditions apply: 1. A person shall be a subordinate to the Employer and at his service.2. A person shall perform a job against wages.

In practice, the drivers in Jordan whom works with the digital platform companies are also not free to set fares, build up their own clients or choose their route. Furthermore, the digital platform companies could take actions against drivers in case of refusing rides by temporarily disconnecting them from the application or for refusing trips by losing access to their accounts and also if they have been reported for problematic behaviour. This clearly means that such drivers are subordinate to digital platform companies and at their service since they are under their supervision and management.

However, wage, as defined above, is clearly identified as what is paid by the employer to the employee. In practice, no wages are paid by the digital platform companies to the drivers. On the contrary, the drivers pay a certain percentage of what they gain from their clients to the digital platform companies. Thus, it is questionable whether courts in Jordan would consider such percentage as  wage based on the Jordan Labour Law.

There is no scope to criticise the view of what legally constitutes a subordinate relationship between the digital platform companies and the drivers. On the other hand, there is a broad scope to criticise what legally constitutes a wage under the above circumstances since there is no wage to be paid to the drivers by the digital platform companies.

We do acknowledge that the digital platform companies strenuously insist that they are technologies companies that support drivers’ transportation businesses and not transportation companies. However, the relationship between the digital platform companies and the drivers is not set in stone, but is still in the process of being constructed. As a result, such relationship shall be constructed either through a clear and fair by-law created by the Jordanian Ministry of Transportation or through amending Jordan Labour Law.

 

The writer is professor of Commercial Law at the School of Law / The University of Jordan, and a senior partner at Gedara for Legal Services & Arbitration

 

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