MP's back UPHD call on private hire operators to compensate drivers in the event of coronavirus infection

March 11, 2020

United Private Hire Drivers calls on Uber, Ola, Bolt and other minicab operators to honour sick pay and other worker rights in a bid to prevent wider Covid-19 infection

  • Drivers demand immediate implementation of sick pay provision, minimum wage and the right to cancel high risk work at operators including Uber, Ola, Bolt, Kapten, ViaVan and Addison Lee
  • Poor working conditions in the UK minicab industry risk escalation of Covid-19 infection rates  
  • UPHD calls on Transport Minister, First Minister of Scotland and Mayor of London to support their call for large operators to take urgent action
  • Wes Streeting MP and Nadia Whittome MP join call for action

Poor working conditions in the UK’s app dominated minicab industry present a significant risk to public health during the current coronavirus crisis unless urgent action is taken by the government, local authorities and operators such as Uber, Ola, Bolt and Addison Lee.

With drivers working as much as 30 hours per week to cover vehicle rental and other costs just to break even, and without access to worker rights such as minimum wage and sick pay, drivers who are infected may simply not be able to afford to stop working.

The situation could be further exasperated with drivers, denied the security of a guaranteed minimum wage, forced to work even longer hours to compensate for a sudden reduction in public demand for minicab services in the event of a more widespread Covid-19 outbreak in the UK.

To significantly reduce the risk of the minicab industry becoming a risk of infection transmission UPHD has written to the CEO’s of the following large operators including Uber, Ola, Bolt, Kapten, ViaVan and Addison Lee calling on them to immediately implement the following measures:

·       Operators must pay sick pay for any period of illness or quarantine to be calculated at a rate of the Real Living Wage plus and an allowance of £250 per week for vehicle financing costs. This will ensure infected drivers do stop working and have adequate resources to ensure they can afford to self-isolate.
·       Operators must pay at least the real living wage for every hour drivers are logged on and available for work and provision for holiday pay. This is consistent with several rulings in the Aslam & Farrar v Uber Employment Tribunal case and would help ensure drivers are not working excessive hours in the event of a sudden, temporary reduction in customer demand.

UPHD has also written to Transport Minister Grant Shapps, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, the Mayor of London as well as other city licensing authorities to ask them to support their demand for action.

Yaseen Aslam, General Secretary of United Private Hire Drivers said:

For too long, illegal and unsafe industry working conditions have been ignored by private hire operators, licensing authorities and central government. We now need urgent action on the part of large multinational operators, regulators and the government to protect drivers and the travelling public from the risk of poor industry work practices becoming an accelerant for wider Covid-19 infection.

Wes Streeting MP for Ilford North said:

The Coronavirus risk has thrown into sharp relief just how vulnerable workers in the gig economy are to bouts of illness and the resulting loss of pay. Many drivers will feel compelled to carry on working when they’re unwell, potentially putting themselves and others at risk. Operators must act immediately to reassure drivers and the travelling public that they’ll treat drivers with the fairness, compassion and respect they’re owed.”

Nadia Whittome MP for Nottingham East said:

The coronavirus has shined a light on the appalling state of workers’ rights in this country. Uber must give sick pay, to protect the health of their workers and the general public.”