It seems to me that the taxonomy outlined in the article (see link) is incomplete. We are all familiar with the concept of an employee. This is an individual who has a relationship with an employer that is well defined in terms of responsibilities of each party and remuneration to the employee for work performed.
We are also very familiar with the concept of a contractor. This is an individual who also has a relationship with a business; works for that business is compensated, but does not have all of the benefits of an employee. I think it is fair to say that traditionally contractors were used to:
- Perform tasks that were not part of the strategic focus of a company, like grounds maintenance or janitorial services;
- Fill in during peaks in work load. An example of this might be people to assist a store or a shipper during the holiday season; and
- Bring in expertise that is necessary, but for a very short duration, i.e. someone who will help you by providing very specialized expertise on an effort that doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it requires expertise. The services of a lawyer on a law suit would be a good example.
I think it is also fair to say that companies have extended/abused the contractor relationship to reduce costs that are associated with employees. FedEx’s use of contractors as drivers is a good example. Very bad form, i.e. maybe not illegal (all of the time), but definitely immoral.
The relationship set up by a company like Uber is a contractor relationship, but not between Uber and the drivers who use their service. It is instead a contract between the driver and someone who needs (on a very temporary basis) someone to drive them from point A to point B. Uber drivers are independent business people who use Uber as a very efficient way of finding customers. And, their customers are their customers because they provide them with an efficient (obviously or the service wouldn’t be thriving) way to procure a service—the ride between point A and point B.
I just don’t get how (although I know why) someone can transform this contracting relationship (except in the context of providing a “matching” service to drivers and riders) into anything else but one between the driver and customer wanting a ride.