Transport minister John Hayes said Uber and other private hire companies could be forced to sign up to tough new licences to ensure they pay staff the minimum wage
Uber and other private hire companies could be forced to sign up to tough new licences to ensure they pay staff the minimum wage, a minister suggested yesterday.
Transport minister John Hayes was responding to a call from a senior MP that councils should be able to minimum standards before granting firms taxi licences.
Labour's Frank Field said companies such as Uber flout the existing lax rules to get around paying drivers a decent living.
His calls in a Westminster debate were met with a positive response from Mr Hayes, who pledged to review the guidance issued to councils.
The minister said he would establish a working party under an independent chair within the Department for Transport to inquire into the pay and working conditions at Uber.
Mr Field, the former chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, said: 'Uber and similar companies are registering we know in London, in Leeds, in Liverpool and in Glasgow, and getting licences, as they have to, from the transport executive of those areas.
'Is it because the legislation is unsure, difficult to interpret, that these transport executives are not in fact saying these are the minimum conditions you the company must meet if you wish us to grant you a licence to operate in our area?
'I would like to hear the minister's view on this. I think the position is quite clear, it just takes a few – or at least one – transport authority to say this is the interpretation.'
Mr Field said while Uber had made a positive contribution to the market and many workers it was also a 'destructive force for many people's living standards', accusing it of offering a 'bogus' self-employment contract.
Labour's Frank Field said companies such as Uber flout the existing lax rules to get around paying drivers a decent living
Mr Field has previously published a report which concluded that drivers working with Uber are in danger of taking home as little as £2 an hour – less than a third of the National Living Wage.
Speaking after the debate, he said: 'This is a big, big breakthrough. The government has acted on the evidence I submitted on the poverty pay and shoddy treatment meted out to some workers at the bottom of the 'gig economy', both by commissioning the Taylor Review and now by inquiring specifically around the private hire industry.
However Uber are busy hedging their bets in case they are not relicensed by TfL in September. They are now insisting that that are not a Private Hire operator, but a third party technology company that acts as agent, putting customers in contact with drivers who then take the booking. If this is accepted by TfL then this would mean every Uber driver would need a Private Hire operator's licence.
Source : Daily Mail