Friday 28 September 2018 12:10 pm

Uber drivers would rather keep self-employed worker status than sign a fixed contract, report claims

Nicholas Earl is a sports and business contributor.

Nicholas Earl is a sports and business contributor.

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  Uber drivers would prefer to remain as independent contractors on flexible hour deals than work fixed hours as part of the company, according to responses from Uber drivers in a new study.

In a report undertaken by Oxford University's Oxford Martin School entitled “Uber Happy? Work and Well-being in the 'Gig Economy'”, a resounding majority of drivers said they value flexibility with Uber and want to retain their self-employment status.

The findings show that 93 per cent of drivers agree or strongly agree with the statement, “I partnered with Uber to have more flexibility in my schedule and balance my work life and family life." 

Read more: Uber pays out $148m to settle legal case over cyber attack cover-up

Four in five drivers prefer their current situation to a fixed term contract, with the median driver stating they would require a 25 per cent increase to hourly pay to accept fixed hours.

The driving patterns of Uber drivers reflected this preference. The report said that approximately 75 per cent of all weeks driven on the mobile platform deviate between 10 and 50 per cent from hours worked in the week previous. Almost a quarter of weeks deviate by more than 50 per cent from the week before.

Labour Party Conference 2017- Day Two
TfL previously stripped Uber of its licence last year while London mayor Sadiq Khan still wants to restrict the number of Uber drivers in the capital (Source: Getty)

The research also claimed most Uber drivers were not being exploited by the tech giant. It said: "the typical Uber driver in London is not a marginalized worker that has been squeezed out of the conventional labour market, or forced to partner with Uber due to a lack of other options."

They also take home median earnings of around £11 an hour logged in to the app after paying the costs of fuel and insurance costs alongside Uber's service fee. This is about 80 pence more than the national living wage in London which is £10.20 but £4 less than the company's previous estimates reported in The Telegraph.

Read more: Uber launches 24-hour support hotline following pressure from TfL

Uber won a court appeal in Westminster Magistrates Court earlier this June after TfL revoked its licence, citing public security and safety issues and questions over whether Uber was properly vetting its drivers.

More than 45,000 Uber drivers work in London, making up over a third of the 114,000 private drivers on the capital's streets. Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor has pledged to look into ways to reducing the totals to ease congestion and reduce pollution. Uber has also faced scrutiny about the status of the Uber drivers this year through a wider government review into the "gig economy". 

"We know there’s more to do," said Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in the UK in response to the report's findings. "That's why we’ve introduced new features to give drivers even more control over how they use the app, alongside more security through sickness, injury, maternity and paternity protections.

"We'll keep listening to drivers and introduce further improvements to ensure that driving with Uber is the best possible experience."