Uber looks at steering drivers on new road
UBER Technologies said its UK drivers would face broad changes if required to be classified as employees with benefits, a sign the company is considering alternatives to its labour model amid tighter scrutiny from regulators.
Andrew Byrne, the head of public policy for Uber in the UK, told a parliamentary hearing last Tuesday that Uber would become more like a private-hire car service that exerts more control over when and where its drivers work.
The statement was a rare instance in which Uber said how it might adjust if a government implements new labour laws, a threat the company’s business is facing in cities around the world.
“It would change the nature of the relationship we would have with drivers,” he said, adding that classifying drivers as employees would add “tens of millions” in additional costs, including national health insurance taxes, and paying for covering minimum pay, holidays, and maternity and paternity leave.
The start-up generated $1.75 billion (R22.45bn) in adjusted net revenue in the second quarter of this year, up 17 percent from the prior quarter. Uber narrowed losses by 9 percent to $645 million, based on financial results it provided.
The worker debate goes to the heart of Uber’s business model. The company has relied on a network of workers who log on through an app without much oversight from the company, arguing it shouldn’t have to classify drivers as workers because it’s a platform that connects drivers and riders.
Currently, as long as a driver has a private-hire driving licence and proof of insurance registered with Uber, they can log on to the app to pick up passengers. Byrne indicated that flexibility would erode if drivers were classified as employees. –