A Third of UK Uber Drivers are Logged Into the App for More Than 40 Hours a Week
They should be treated as full-time employees, critics argue.
Nearly a third of Uber's 50,000 U.K. drivers are logged into the app for more than 40 hours a week, and around 8 percent are logged in for more than 60 hours, the company said in a letter to government officials. As an argument against stricter regulations, Uber has claimed most of its drivers are part-timers who only work a few hours a week.
The Uber letter also said that 2.6 percent of U.K. drivers are logged in for more than 70 hours a week, and 0.8 percent for more than 80 hours. Statistics like this could support the argument of Uber critics that drivers do the same amount of work as full-time employees, and that Uber should treat them as such. The European Union's highest court ruled this week that Uber should be regulated like a taxi company.
But Andrew Byrne, Uber's Head of Public Policy in Britain and Ireland, said the amount of time a user is logged into the app isn't the same as the number of hours he or she is driving.
"Individuals are able to turn the app on and off at any time as well as decide when to take requests -- this means that an hour logged into the Uber app is not the same as an hour of work," Byrne said in a letter responding to questions from the British Parliament's Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Committee obtained by Reuters.
"Drivers often do not confirm trips that are sent to them," Byrne wrote. He said Uber is working on a tool that will limit driving hours, which will launch in January.
Uber is on the defensive in the U.K. Regulators declined to renew its London operator license when the license expired at the end of September. Officials were concerned about various Uber policies, included how the company conducted background checks for drivers. A second city, Sheffield, suspended Uber's operator license earlier this month. Uber claims it was due to a paperwork error.