Uber announces “safety” cap on UK driver hours

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Uber has confirmed it would cap the quantity of hours drivers on its platform within the UK could be logged in to simply accept journeys. After ten hours the brand new coverage would require drivers take an uninterrupted six-hour break earlier than they will log again into the app once more.

Uber says the brand new UK driver hours coverage will come into drive subsequent week.

A spokesman informed us it’s making the change to “improve driver and passenger security” — although in reality the corporate has confronted rising political stress on questions of safety and dealing situations for a lot of months now, together with going through a grilling in October from a parliamentary committee that’s operating an enquiry into the gig economic system.

Security was additionally one of many points cited by London’s transport regulator for withdrawing Uber’s license to function within the metropolis in September.

In an announcement on the brand new driver hours coverage, Andrew Byrne, Uber’s head of coverage, informed us: “Whereas drivers solely spend a median of 30 hours every week logged into our app, we wish to do our half to make sure they don’t drive drained. That’s why we’ve been sending drivers common reminders to take relaxation breaks and why we’re now bringing in these new limits.”

“We proceed to take heed to suggestions and plan to make different adjustments and enhancements over the approaching months,” he added.

An Uber spokesman declined to reply once we requested whether or not the corporate might be bringing in driver caps elsewhere in Europe.

Again in October Uber informed UK MPs operating an enquiry into gig economic system working situations that it was engaged on a mechanism to cap the period of time a driver could possibly be logged into the app over a rolling 24 hour interval. On the time it stated it was testing a cap of between 12 and 10 hours.

Throughout the committee session UK parliamentarians pressed Uber on its angle to security — elevating considerations concerning the lengthy hours being clocked up by drivers on the platform, together with citing tales of drivers sleeping of their automobiles to work for longer.

Uber informed the committee that the typical variety of hours labored per week by Uber drivers throughout the UK is “just below 30″. It additionally stated 1 / 4 of Uber drivers work fewer than 10 hours per week; one other quarter works greater than 40 hours; and “about 25 per cent” work greater than 40 hours per week.

Although it has since corrected these figures — saying that the median variety of hours is 30; and that 16 per cent of drivers within the UK are logged into the app for fewer than 10 hours per week; and just below a 3rd (31%) are logged in to the app for greater than 40 hours per week.

The committee requested Uber to ship breakdowns for percentages of drivers working greater than 50, 60, 70 and 80 hours per week — and Uber initially informed it “fewer than 6% of drivers spend greater than 60 hours logged into the app per week”.

Once more, Uber has since corrected the figures it offered — and in a letter to the committee dated December 13 it now states that “fewer than eight% of drivers spend greater than 60 hours logged in to the app per week”.

It additionally stated that 2.6% of Uber drivers are logged in for greater than 70 hours per week, and zero.eight% are logged in for greater than 80 hours per week.

Provided that the corporate claims to have round 50,000 drivers on its UK platform that means as much as four,000 Uber driver are routinely logged into the app for greater than 60 hours per week. Of these, 1,300 are logged in for greater than 70 hours per week, and 400 are logged in for greater than 80 hours per week.

Although within the letter Uber claims that “an hour logged into the Uber app will not be the identical as an hour of labor” — suggesting for instance that “drivers can log in whereas on a break or doing different issues”.

From subsequent week, these four,000 UK Uber drivers will face a tough cap of ten hours on the variety of consecutive hours they are often logged in to ply their driving commerce on the platform.

However the reality it’s taken authorized challenges and public stress from parliamentarians to push Uber to put in a security cap on driver working hours hardly displays properly on the corporate’s angle to driver and passenger security.

Rising authorized and political stress is clearly having an influence on how Uber does enterprise in Europe although. In November the corporate misplaced its first enchantment towards a 2016 UK employment tribunal verdict that had judged a gaggle of Uber drivers to be employees, quite than self-employed contractors — as the corporate had argued.

Final April, within the wake of the October 2016 tribunal resolution, it introduced it was launching a backed private damage and sickness insurance coverage product for drivers within the UK — responding to rising authorized liabilities associated to working situations on its platform.

Uber has stated that if it has to fund employees’ rights for all ~50okay UK Uber drivers it will price the enterprise “tens of thousands and thousands” of kilos. (Although, in December, it introduced that from January it will fund a free private accident and illness insurance coverage package deal for all couriers on its UberEats enterprise, throughout Europe.)

The UK authorities has been actively eyeing how gig economic system platforms mesh with present employment — commissioning an unbiased overview into the problem which reported final summer time. Although it’s nonetheless not clear how precisely it’d transfer ahead with legislative adjustments.

Responding to Uber’s new driver hours coverage, the IWGB union, which campaigns for gig economic system employees rights within the UK, welcomed the cap however argued that it fails to handle the basis reason behind driver fatigue — which it says is a results of low charges of pay (it claims UK Uber drivers must work for 34 hours every week simply to interrupt even).

“If Uber forces drivers to work much less with out paying extra it’s simply going depress hourly earnings even additional under the minimal wage and push drivers to the brink. The answer is straightforward: Uber has to abide by what two separate tribunals have dominated and pay its drivers a minimum of the minimal wage and vacation pay,” stated IWGB UPHD department chair James Farrar in an announcement.

“[Transport for London] and licensing authorities across the nation have additionally contributed to the issue of driver fatigue and exploitation by over supplying the market with licenses and failing to make provision to guard drivers. As soon as once more, drivers are being made to pay for the results of company greed and regulatory failure.”

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