Uber Will Force UK Drivers to Take Breaks in Response to Safety Concerns

They'll have to stop picking up passengers after driving for 10 hours.

AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Uber will require U.K. drivers to take a six-hour break after they have worked for 10 hours. The new policy is a response to persistent criticism that drivers are overworked.

Uber itself said last month that around one-third of its 50,000 U.K. drivers are logged into the app more than 40 hours a week. However, the ride-sharing company noted that being logged into the app doesn't mean drivers are actually working for that amount of time. Uber first floated the idea of mandatory breaks last year and will implement the policy beginning next week.

"While drivers only spend an average of 30 hours a week logged into our app, we want to do our part to ensure they don't drive tired," Andrew Byrne, Uber's head of public policy in Britain and Ireland, said in a statement.

The amount of time drivers work is not just a safety issue. While Uber has said the majority of its drivers are part-timers, critics have argued that these drivers actually work as much as full-time taxi employees, and should be treated as such.

Uber remains on the defensive in the U.K. The company is still working to get its London operator license back after the British capital's transportation agency declined to renew it late last year. A second city, York, as also banned Uber. Sheffield suspended Uber over what the company claimed was a paperwork error but later lifted the suspension. Uber must also deal with a European Union court decision declaring that it must be regulated like a taxi company.