Uber is setting up an advisory board of five drivers in every UK city it operates in an effort to improve the company’s accountability. The new programme, called UberENGAGE, will allow each panel to meet with senior Uber staff every month to discuss feedback, suggestions and improvements to the service. Uber is then required to submit a detailed response to their findings, giving drivers a greater say in the way the company is run, Uber said.
The programme is set to begin in the UK, and if successful will be rolled out to other countries. “Licensed drivers who use our app are absolutely vital to our business. Thanks to their feedback we’ve already made a number of improvements such as investing in discounted illness cover and in-app tipping,” said Tom Elvidge, Uber’s UK general manager. “But we know we can do a better job of listening to drivers and acting on what they say. Our new driver advisory groups in each city will not only formalise how we listen to drivers, but also help generate ideas for further changes we can make.”
The UberENGAGE programme will be overseen by three private hire drivers and three independent experts: Natasha Grice, general manager of Virgin Trains, West Midlands - London Route, Polly Mackenzie, director of think tank Demos and Chris Bryce, chief executive of IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed). The programme is launched in the wake of former Tony Blair advisor Matthew Taylor’s Review of Modern Working Practices report in July last year, which highlighted the need for an overhaul in employment law designed to protect those working in the gig economy.
It called for the creation of a new category of worker - a dependent contractor - alongside employed and self-employed. Uber recently imposed a limit on the number of hours its drivers can work, which it claims will improve customer and driver safety. Drivers are now required to take an uninterrupted six-hour break after ten hours of driving to drop off or collect passengers. Drivers who fail to complete the designated break will be unable to log into the app to continue driving.