UK

Uber 'Testing Limits' On Driver Hours Amid Fears Over Safety

Feature could appease TfL as ride-hailing app battles licence decision.

10/10/2017 14:35 BST
PA Wire/PA Images
Uber is battling to convince regulators in London it is a safe operator 

Uber is testing the ability to log drivers out of its app if they have been working for more than 12 hours in a single day, as it battles to convince regulators it is a safe operator.

The global ride-hailing app revealed the development plans during testimony in front of MPs on Tuesday as part of a probe into the so-called gig economy.

Andrew Byrne, Uber’s head of public policy in Britain, said: “At the moment we call people if they are working long hours.

“But we are... testing and developing a solution which effectively logs someone off when they work over a certain number of hours in a [rolling] 24 hours.

Parliament
Andrew Byrne, Uber UK's head of public policy, told MPs the firm is testing a system to 'log off' drivers who come close to working unsafe hours

“That would be something like 10 or 12 [hours in a day].

“That, according to safety research, is the time somebody can be safe on the road.”

The move may appease regulators in London, who last month withdrew the firm’s operating licence over a series of concerns, including “public safety”.

Byrne told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee the average hours people work as an Uber driver across the UK is just less than 30.

Rachel Reeves, Labour MP for Leeds West, asked Byrne what Uber does to ensure drivers aren’t working when they are ill.

“There is no obligation to work... we provide drivers with a heavily subsidised insurance that covers sick pay,” Byrne said.

The insurance costs drivers around £2 per week, he added.

Story continues below.

Uber was also asked by MPs to provide information on the number of drivers working more than 80 hours per week.

Transport For London (TfL) said in a statement that its decision to withdraw Uber’s licence was in part due to “public safety”.

The regulator said: “TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.”

The situation meant it believed Uber was “not a fit and proper” to operate in the capital.

The GMB trade union has previously said inadequate rest periods for Uber drivers create “a substantial risk to all road users”.

Uber appeared alongside delivery company Hermes and food delivery app Deliveroo as part of an inquiry into a review of modern work by economist Matthew Taylor.