Uber has introduced a raft of major changes designed to improve the lives of drivers in the UK that include a new feature for tipping and reducing waiting times in which they don't get paid.
The measures come in the wake of criticism of Uber's treatment of drivers by unions and MPs.
Now, passengers will be able to tip their driver within the app and soon, UberEats riders too, meaning they will no longer have to carry cash.
A five minute time period in which passengers can cancel their ride will be reduced to two minutes, while drivers left waiting more than two minutes for their passenger to arrive will be able to charge 20p for every minute thy have to wait.
"Drivers’ time is valuable and every minute spent waiting for a rider means less time driving and making money," said Uber regional manager for the UK, Jo Bertram.
Drivers will now also be able to turn down a trip straightaway with a "no thanks" button, instead of having to wait for it to time out. And they will also be able to integrate their lives better with work: they can now set a destination such as where they have an errand or appointment, and the app will offer jobs on the way.
And finally, Uber's higher-end Exec and XL drivers wil now have the option to take regular UberX passengers while ratings will be removed which reference things out of a driver's control, such as issues with the app.
|Seven Uber driver changes|
|1. In-app tipping|
|2. Paid waiting times|
|3. Two minute cancellations|
|4. "No thanks" button|
|5. Driver destination and arrival time|
|6. Choice of ride for Exec and XL drivers|
|7. Fairer ratings|
Consumers will likely be disappointed that they will have a shorter time to cancel rides and that they will pay for keeping the driver waiting, but Uber said in the case of the "no thanks" button, the change would be good for them.
"This is good news for riders too as the request gets passed on to another driver sooner meaning shorter waiting times," said Bertram.
The changes address several concerns raised in recent months. MPs heard in February from one disgruntled driver, for example, who had splashed out on an executive car only to find there was little demand for the service in the area he was working.
Uber has insisted that the majority of drivers are happy, however, the latest changes follow other concessions to improving the work. In April Uber started offering illness and injury cover with the Association of Independent Professionals & the Self-Employed (IPSE).
"These incentives provide further evidence that Uber is committed to providing a fairer deal for their partner drivers," said IPSE deputy director of policy Andrew Chamberlain.
The Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain, which now includes United Private Hire Drivers group, the industry body representing minicab drivers and laed by the lead claimant in the landmark Uber employment tribunal case, said the latest efforts field to deal with the major concerns, however.
"Despite its claims, Uber remains completely deaf to the most serious issue facing – excessively long hours earning on average between £5 and £6 per hour," said UPHD's James Farrar.
Uber says the average fair for drivers last year was £15 per hour after fees.
Meanwhile, Uber has been accused by senior police officers in the Met Police of failing to report sex attacks and other crimes allegedly committed by drivers. Uber has said that it is up to passengers to report incidents and that it supports any investigations by police.