California is known for its progressive policies and has made efforts to safeguard the rights of Uber drivers. In most states, Uber classifies their drivers as “independent contractors” rather than employees. This frees the company from regulating wages, overtime, meal periods, unemployment insurance, health care subsidies, workers compensation, and rest breaks. It also allows Uber to legally end the contract for whatever reason, whenever they please. California laws protect employees from mistreatment, but it does not extend these measures to independent contractors.
Drivers themselves have protested against mistreatment and unfair wages. There has been so much debate over whether Uber and Lyft should consider their drivers as employees that the state has drafted the bill AB5, which will make it more difficult for companies to hire drivers as independent contractors. The bill has been approved by the state Assembly, and the California Senate will be voting on the proposal by the end of the summer.