According to recent media coverage, the Federal Agency for Professional and Non-professional Accidents in Lucerne (SUVA) has notified taxi platform Uber that the technology software company will be treated as an employer for SUVA social security purposes. SUVA's most recent decision seems to contradict a number of decisions rendered by cantonal social security agencies since Uber's Swiss market entry in 2012, which have so far accepted Uber's position that offers only market platform brokering among independent self-employed taxi drivers and their clients.

The SUVA decision could constitute a blow to Uber's business model, as the software technology company might henceforth be required to pay social security contributions of 12.25% for the risks of old age, death, invalidity and unemployment, plus additional levies for further social security coverage against professional and non-professional accidents and family allowances, among others. In the past, Uber has successfully argued that it does not fall under local taxi legislation.

SUVA and local social security agencies apply a variety of tests in order to determine what constitutes a classic employer-employee relationship for social security purposes. The most important tests are the so-called 'subordination' and 'integration' tests (ie, an employer's right to give binding instructions to its employees and the extent to which employees are integrated into the employer's work organisation). Uber has argued in the past that these two cornerstone tests are not met, since taxi drivers are free to accept transportation orders from potential clients and that no legal performance obligation exists with respect to Uber. For now, there seems to be some merit to Uber's argument that it does not provide for any specific taxi organisation into which taxi drivers could be integrated.

For further information on this topic please contact Thomas Rihm at Lutz Partner Rechtsanwälte by telephone (+41 44 368 50 50) or email (thomas.rihm@lutz-partner.ch). The Lutz Partner website can be accessed at www.lutz-partner.ch.

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