Updated: Mar 17
A minicab group has called for ride-hailing operators to honour sick pay and pay minimum hourly wages in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement released by a group of drivers formerly of the United Private Hire Drivers’ (UPHD) at the IWGB, they said there could be 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.
Representatives from the group claim drivers are working as much as 30 hours per week just to cover the vehicle rental and other costs to break even. The group states that 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.
To prevent the minicab industry becoming a risk of infection transmission the UPHD has written to the CEO’s of large operators including Uber, Ola, Bolt, Kapten, ViaVan and Addison Lee, calling for them to act.
The group are calling on operators to pay sick pay for any period of illness or quarantine to be calculated at a rate of the Real Living Wage plus an allowance of £250 per week for vehicle financing costs.
Officials are also asking operators to the pay minimum wage for every hour drivers are logged on and available for work and provision for holiday pay.
The group have also written to politicians including the 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 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.”