Uber has announced it is looking to employ another 20,000 drivers in the UK by the end of 2021. This will increase the platform’s driver network to 90,000 and is due to a surge in demand since lockdown rules were eased last month.
The ride-hailing app firm has had a 50% increase in trips since lockdown rule changes on the 12th of April, which allowed pubs and restaurants to serve customers outdoors, as well as the opening of non-essential shops such as retail. The demand for rides is expected to increase further in the coming summer as restrictions are eased further.
Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, said: “As cities open up and people start moving again, we are encouraging 20,000 new drivers to sign up.”
In February, the Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers were not self-employed contractors but workers. Initially, Uber claimed that this ruling only applied to the 25 drivers named in the case. However, Uber soon changed this stance and agreed to give all its UK drivers a guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay and pensions from the 17th of March.
However, two of the lead claimants in the case said the changes that Uber have made do not go far enough. Stating that the Supreme Court had recommended that drivers should have rights to the minimum wage from the moment they switch the app on, but Uber has only agreed to pay from when a journey is booked.
According to the App Drivers & Couriers Union this failure to comply with the Supreme Court ruling means that Uber drivers will “still be short-changed to the tune of 40-50%”. This is because Uber’s use of a fixed-time model of pricing means drivers will be paid the same amount regardless of route or traffic conditions. This the union said could “push drivers to rush and cut corners and that once normal traffic returns to the cities after the pandemic, driver earnings per trip will inevitably decline.”
Unions and lawyers for the drivers have urged the government to investigate the back-pay claims of drivers and force Uber to pay up. So far though HMRC and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have failed to take any action.
A spokesperson for BEIS stated “The Uber Supreme Court judgment upheld employment status law as it stands, and Uber’s recent announcement to reclassify all their drivers as workers is a positive step. It is for Uber to ensure that their new proposals meet the necessary legal requirements.”