Uber is a cellular software that connects customers in want of a trip with keen and in a position drivers. Riders pay fare for every journey, with the driving force and the corporate every receiving a portion of the fare. The applying was launched in 2009 after founders Travis Kalanick and Garret Camp had bother hailing a cab in Paris.[1] Since then, Uber’s progress has been monumental. Right this moment, Uber operates in 600 cities inside 78 nations, and over 5 billion rides have been given to 75 million riders by 7 million drivers.[2] Nevertheless, Uber has additionally developed a fame for being much less driver-friendly in comparison with different ridesharing providers and has confronted a number of public controversies relating to therapy of its drivers.[3]

Driver Standing[edit]

Uber drivers obtain elevated flexibility and autonomy in comparison with conventional working roles. In 2015, Uber launched a examine, which revealed that 91% of its drivers drive “to earn extra earnings to raised assist myself or my household,” 85% drive “to have extra flexibility in my schedule and stability work with my life and household,” and 87% drive “to be my very own boss and set my very own schedule.” About half of Uber’s drivers beforehand labored within the for-hire transportation business, however the different half of drivers didn’t beforehand drive for a residing and have become drivers as a result of Uber offered a brand new, handy kind of job for them.[4]

Drivers are thought of contractors fairly than workers. As contractors, federal and state employment legal guidelines don’t entitle them to a number of advantages and providers that workers should obtain. The authorized definition of an ‘employer’ is one who has the facility to “management and direct” the worker on “how the work is to be carried out.”[5] Nevertheless, drivers argue that Uber does simply this. Drivers should comply with Uber’s code of efficiency and never fall beneath the minimal common score set by Uber. Uber additionally units the fare and requires drivers to simply accept assigned rides and drive routes plotted by the appliance.[6]

As a result of Uber classifies its drivers as contractors, in contrast to different transportation corporations, Uber doesn’t must personal its personal fleet of automobiles or pay to license and prepare its drivers. This has helped Uber preserve its profitability. General, the contractor standing of Uber’s drivers reduces prices by about 20-30%.[7]

Driver Advantages and Protections[edit]

Uber drivers are unbiased contractors and thus obtain few advantages or protections. Whereas Uber affords its drivers supplemental automotive insurance coverage, it doesn’t cowl medical, dental, or life insurance coverage.[8] Drivers bear the brunt of customer support points, comparable to complaints when Uber will increase its costs throughout high-demand “surge” intervals. Riders can go away drivers any score, and Uber offers no management towards discriminatory scores. In most cities, drivers can not unionize. A number of fits have been filed towards Uber for its remedies of its drivers.[9]
The Chamber of Commerce v. Metropolis of Seattle case highlights the distinctive place of Uber drivers. The case issues an ordinance handed in 2015 that enables rideshare drivers to unionize.[10] The plaintiff argues that, since drivers are unbiased contractors, unionization would violate antitrust legal guidelines and permit drivers to illegally set costs. But many argue Uber drivers are in a singular place: someplace between a standard worker and an unbiased contractor. Supporters of unionization argue Seattle’s ordinance empowers riders to deal with key issues comparable to low wages.[11]


On April 2, 2017, the New York Instances printed an article titled “How Uber Makes use of Psychological Methods to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons.” The article detailed how “at the same time as Uber talks up its dedication to deal with drivers extra humanely, it’s engaged in a unprecedented behind-the-scenes experiment in behavioral science to control them within the service of its company progress.” Inside a day, a number of different information sources had republished the article’s findings, and Uber was dealing with vital controversy.[3]

The psychological methods described within the article fall beneath the class of gamification. Gamification is the mixing of recreation mechanics into an present course of or system to inspire participation, engagement, and loyalty.[12] Uber’s gamification strategies push its drivers to work longer hours, bringing in further revenue for Uber. Typically, these strategies encourage drivers to work at instances and areas that assist Uber meet buyer demand however earn the drivers much less cash.

One gamification function Uber just lately added is an “auto-queuing” operate (much like that of Netflix). With this function, drivers are mechanically assigned new passengers for the following trip earlier than their present trip is over. Drivers can select to briefly pause the function, nevertheless it can’t be completely disabled. The function resulted in lots of Uber drivers giving continuous rides for hours on finish and being unable to take toilet breaks. An Uber official reported that drivers have been saying, “I can by no means go offline. I’m on simply steady journeys. It is a downside.”[3]

Different examples of Uber’s gamification and psychological methods embrace driving targets, achievement badges, “quests” that reward driving further rides, prompts encouraging drivers to drive in the direction of sure areas, and native Uber managers adopting “feminine personas to extend engagement with drivers.”[3][13] These gamification practices reveal Uber’s prioritization of revenue over the well-being of their drivers and name into query the morality of corporations utilizing expertise to control human habits.

Driver Compensation[edit]

Some Uber drivers are involved about pay; they really feel that Uber’s compensation insurance policies detract from their skill to earn a living. The Monetary Instances interviewed one such driver who stated, “should you examine all of your prices, the gasoline you purchase, the upkeep, the oil adjustments, you aren’t getting cash.”[14] Reductions in fare costs to compete with Lyft and the addition of UberPool (Uber’s cheaper possibility for carpooled rides) have solely elevated tensions over pay.[14][15]

Uber drivers obtain solely a fraction of the fare paid by riders. Uber takes a 20-30% fee price and a $1-Three reserving price.[16] In 2015, Uber acquired pushback from drivers after transferring to a tiered fee system. When Uber first launched, its fee charges have been 20%. In 2014, they elevated to 25%. With Uber’s new system, the fee taken depends upon the variety of rides the driving force has accomplished that week. Uber now takes 30% fee on a driver’s first 20 rides in every week, 25% fee on the driving force’s subsequent 20 rides, and 20% fee on any further rides. This successfully raised the fee charge for drivers not finishing properly over 40 rides per week.[17]

Uber drivers’ income are lowered additional by different elements. As recommended above, Uber drivers should additionally cowl their very own bills (e.g. gasoline, upkeep, repairs), even when these bills are incurred whereas driving for Uber. On common, these prices come out to about 20-30% of what Uber’s make from fare.[18] Uber drivers should additionally pay an extra 7.65% in taxes on their earnings since they’re thought of contractors, not workers.[19] Uber drivers’ standing as contractors additionally implies that Uber drivers shouldn’t have to be paid minimal wage and aren’t given advantages comparable to additional time or vacation pay.[7]

One examine discovered that the common median pay for Uber drivers within the US was solely $8.55 and that 54% of Ubers make beneath the minimal wage for the states through which they drive. After bills, 8% of Uber drivers see adverse revenue.[20] Whereas some drivers have nice success driving for Uber, it’s not financially steady for a lot of.

Private Security and Legal responsibility[edit]

Uber’s authorized phrases and circumstances restrict Uber’s legal responsibility for driver and rider losses by stating that they don’t seem to be liable for “oblique, incidental, particular, exemplary, punitive, or consequential injury, together with misplaced income, misplaced information, private harm, or property injury.”[21] It’s unclear who ought to shield these people. Whereas Uber declines to share numbers on incidents relating to assaulted drivers, the US Occupational Security and Well being Administration experiences that taxi drivers are 20 instances extra more likely to be murdered on the job than different professionals. Harry Campbell, an Uber driver, contends that “if you get right into a taxi, there’s a motive there’s plexiglass between you and the driving force,” demonstrating that drivers acknowledge the hazard that they face. [22]

Clashing Views[edit]

Uber and its drivers disagree concerning the firm’s security state of affairs. A former Uber driver spoke out and said that “Uber does no coaching in any respect. I by no means felt secure driving for Uber.”[22] Except for issues about insufficient coaching, others really feel that Uber acknowledges present occasions threatening driver security however doesn’t act. In 2017, taxi drivers in South Africa have been attacking and protesting Uber drivers resulting from their lack of enterprise. Uber drivers have been helpless, and Zweli Ngwenya, a spokesperson for the drivers, argued that “Uber doesn’t care about our security, they’re doing nothing regardless that they’re conscious of the criminality directed the drivers”[23] This assertion raises the query of whether or not Uber is liable for the scrutiny and assault their drivers confronted in South Africa; there’s at present no occasion liable for the security of Uber drivers.

In the meantime, Uber contends that its “dedication to drivers” is “security and confidence behind the wheel” with options comparable to non-anonymous pickups, cellphone quantity substitution, in-application navigation, and fixed GPS monitoring of drivers.[24] Nevertheless, the net web page with this assertion reads extra like an commercial and is plagued by prompts urging readers to enroll to drive for Uber themselves. Uber can enhance safety for drivers by way of coaching, security options, and rider screening.

Security Case Research[edit]

The homicide of Grant Nelson illustrates the absence of sources for drivers in harmful conditions. Nelson was selecting up a passenger in Illinois when he was hacked to demise with a machete and knife that the 16-year-old woman stole from Walmart earlier that day. After his demise, Uber expressed condolences to the household but additionally asserted that drivers should report riders that seem like beneath the age of eighteen. In a way, Uber blamed Nelson and different drivers for the tragedy.[25] Nelson’s household is suing Walmart for negligence, however is unable to pursue authorized motion towards Uber resulting from their legal responsibility clauses.[26] There must be a bunch that’s liable for the security of drivers.

One other prevalent social problem, sexual assault, impacts drivers. Maggie Younger, a feminine Uber driver who has confronted abusive riders, contends that “throughout our trip, I’m their hostage.” Younger was sexually assaulted whereas driving for Uber. She was selecting up a rider at a bar, when two males lifted their intoxicated buddy into Younger’s automotive, regardless of her protests. She started driving this man house. In the course of the journey, he sexually assaulted her, and she or he needed to name the police and watch her attacker be arrested.[27] Younger shares her story with media shops and speaks out concerning the atrocities that feminine drivers face in hopes that change might be carried out.


Is Uber accountable to offer providers and protections to its drivers? Legally, the reply depends upon the employment standing of the drivers. Uber presents itself as a platform, a impartial software program that hyperlinks riders and drivers. The corporate claims its drivers are unbiased contractors.

Nevertheless, many argue that Uber is greater than only a platform. In her article, “Uber had this coming- it was by no means only a ‘tech platform,” journalist Kristy Main states that Uber was a “firm with workers, who it ought to have been paying correctly from the beginning, and prospects, who it ought to have been defending.”[28] Regardless of opposition, Uber has legally retained its standing as a platform.

Coverage apart, the query persists of Uber’s ethical duty to its drivers. Uber could not want to offer the advantages it could to an worker, however there are steps it might probably take to enhance the driving force expertise even whereas sustaining contractor standing. For instance, Uber’s latest implementation of a panic button demonstrates some willingness to enhance security for his or her drivers.[29] Uber’s efforts shouldn’t cease with the panic button.

This ethical dilemma does not solely apply to Uber. With the emergence of the gig financial system, extra different types of work and earnings are being created. Apps comparable to Airbnb, Lyft, Postmates, Wag, and Instacart share comparable moral dilemmas. These points relating to the classification of gig financial system staff and the advantages they obtain will proceed to be urgent points sooner or later.


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  3. abcd Scheiber, N. (2017, April 02). How Uber Makes use of Psychological Methods to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/04/02/expertise/uber-drivers-psychological-tricks.html
  4. Corridor. J. (2015, January 22). Within the Driver’s Seat: A Nearer Take a look at the Uber Associate Expertise. https://www.uber.com/newsroom/in-the-drivers-seat-understanding-the-uber-partner-experience/
  5. Muhl, C.J. (2002, January). What’s an worker? The reply depends upon the Federal legislation. https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/01/art1full.pdf
  6. Ben-Shahar, O. (2017, November 15). Are Uber Drivers Staff? The Reply Will Form The Sharing Economic system. https://www.forbes.com/websites/omribenshahar/2017/11/15/are-uber-drivers-employees-the-answer-will-shape-the-sharing-economy/#43afa7cf5e55.
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  8. How Insurance coverage Works For Uber Driver-Companions. (2018). https://www.uber.com/drive/insurance coverage/
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  10. Chamber of Commerce v. Metropolis of Seattle, No. 17–35371 and 17–35640 (September 8, 2017). http://www.chamberlitigation.com/instances/chamber-commerce-v-city-seattle-0
  11. Asher-Schapiro, A. (2018, March 26). Trump Administration Fights Effort to Unionize Uber Drivers. https://theintercept.com/2018/03/26/uber-drivers-union-seattle/
  12. What Is Gamification? (2017, November 06). https://www.bunchball.com/gamification
  13. Sulleyman, A. (2017, April 04). Uber manipulates drivers into working longer hours with psychological methods. https://www.unbiased.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/information/uber-drivers-manipulate-netflix-working-longer-hours-psychological-tricks-video-games-forward-a7665876.html
  14. ab Hook, L. (2017, October 04). Uber: The uncomfortable view from the driving seat. https://www.ft.com/content material/c9a8b592-a81d-11e7-ab55-27219df83c97
  15. Roberts, J. E. (2017, March 04). Uber drivers inform us Travis Kalanick is unsuitable: Uber *has* paid them much less over time. http://www.businessinsider.com/uber-travis-kalanick-drivers-paid-less-2017-3
  16. Uber Charges: How A lot Does Uber ACTUALLY Take From Drivers? (2018, April 15). https://www.ridester.com/uber-fees/
  17. Huet, E. (2015, Might 19). Uber Checks Taking Even Extra From Its Drivers With 30% Fee. https://www.forbes.com/websites/ellenhuet/2015/05/18/uber-new-uberx-tiered-commission-30-percent/
  18. Wile, R. (2017, July 09). Uber Driver: How A lot Cash Do Uber Drivers Actually Make?. http://time.com/cash/4845407/uber-drivers-really-make-per-hour/
  19. Tracy, A. (2015, June 18). The Large Prices Uber Faces If All Drivers Grow to be Staff. https://www.forbes.com/websites/abigailtracy/2015/06/18/the-massive-costs-uber-faces-if-all-drivers-become-employees/
  20. Zoepf, S. (2018, March 5). Right here is my assertion relating to the latest CEEPR working paper “The Economics of Experience Hailing.”. https://twitter.com/StephenZoepf/standing/970754550968676352
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  22. ab McHugh, M. (2016, March 10). Uber and Lyft Drivers Work Harmful Jobs – However They’re On Their Personal. https://www.wired.com/2016/03/uber-lyft-can-much-keep-drivers-safe/
  23. Masweneng, Okay. (2017, June 13). Uber drivers say they do not really feel secure. https://www.timeslive.co.za/information/south-africa/2017-06-13-uber-drivers-say-they-dont-feel-safe/
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  26. Kravets, D. (2017, June 27). Walmart sued after teen steals machete and kills her Uber driver. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/06/walmart-sued-after-teen-steals-machete-then-kills-her-uber-driver/
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