Taxi-hailing firm Uber is to introduce a cap on how many hours its drivers can work, saying the move is an “industry first”.
The new policy means that a licensed driver on Uber’s app must take an uninterrupted six-hour break after 10 hours of time on a trip with a passenger or on their way to pick up a passenger after confirming a trip request.
Drivers who do not take a long enough break will not be able to log into the app and take trips.
Uber said the new policy will be introduced from next week across the UK to help “enhance driver and passenger safety”.
A statement said: “We believe this is an industry first and are not aware of any other private hire operator in the UK that has introduced such a limit.”
“That’s why we’ve been sending drivers regular reminders to take rest breaks and why we’re now bringing in these new limits. On top of features like GPS tracking of every trip it’s another example of how Uber uses technology to help enhance driver and passenger safety.
“We continue to listen to feedback and plan to make other changes and improvements over the coming months.”
Rachel Reeves, who chairs the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: “The committee have been pressing companies to ensure that the safety of their workers and customers are a priority.
“We received evidence of Uber drivers being logged into the Uber app for more than 60 hours per week so we welcome the introduction of limits to driver hours. We look forward to seeing how this will work in practice, and hope other companies will quickly follow suit.”
Maria Ludkin, the GMB union’s legal director, said: “Uber’s new messaging system warning drivers they have been driving for too long without switching off the app, represents another meaningless public relations tinkering without any real regard for passenger or driver safety.
“On the plus side, the police will now easily be able to check with Uber to see whether tiredness is a factor in Uber accidents, and quite rightly ask why Uber did nothing to curb excessive hours driven by their workers.”
James Farrar, of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, said: “The reason drivers are fatigued is because they are not earning enough, since they need to work at least 34 hours a week just to break even.
“If Uber forces drivers to work less without paying more it is just going to depress hourly earnings even further below the minimum wage and push drivers to the brink.
“The solution is simple: Uber has to abide by what two separate tribunals have ruled and pay its drivers at least the minimum wage and holiday pay.”