Monday, August 3, 2020

Working conditions putting taxi driver livelihoods at risk

A new report has examined working conditions for private hire and Hackney taxi drivers, finding that the precarious nature of the work and an oversupply of drivers is putting livelihoods at risk.

The study, by the Work Futures Research Group at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), identified a complex set of insecurities and vulnerabilities facing drivers, including a lack of protection and rapid changes driven by the growth of online platforms.

The research took place in Nottingham and involved in-depth interviews with individuals from four local drivers’ organisations, the City Council, and an organisation supporting students on nights out which relies on the use of taxis.

There were strong indications of too many drivers for public demand, made worse by the introduction of Uber’s platform-based model, which makes it difficult for both private hire and Hackney drivers to find enough work and leads to them working long hours in order to earn enough to survive.

For private hire drivers, high vehicle running costs, low fares and operators’ fees combine with over supply to result in low incomes. It was suggested that this precarious situation encourages them to break the law by plying for hire, which consequently further increases the competition with Hackney drivers for business.

Current legislation prevents City Councils from capping the number of licences issued to private hire cars, and allows cars registered by other councils to operate in cities, creating enforcement issues and allowing the oversupply of cars to continue.

The report also explores drivers’ designation as self-employed, despite often working consistently for the same operator, which gives them few legal protections and no entitlement to benefits such as holiday and sick pay.

Dr Tom Vickers, lead researcher and senior lecturer at NTU’s School of Social Sciences, said: “Private hire and Hackney drivers enjoy some forms of independence, for example regarding their hours of work; yet economic insecurity, unpredictable incomes, and a weak correspondence between hours worked and money earned, places drivers under considerable pressure and requires them to navigate between the competing demands of operators or platforms, customers and their City Council, as they try to earn a decent wage.”

The report recommends a number of policy changes to improve working conditions. They include recognising private hire drivers as workers entitled to an hourly minimum living wage from their operator; restricting private hire vehicles to taking jobs within the domain of the council to which they are registered; and introducing powers to allow local authorities in England to cap the maximum number of private hire cars registered in the city.

Dr Vickers added: “England’s regulatory framework accounts only for the safety and wellbeing of passengers, not drivers, and this needs to change. Since this research was conducted, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected every aspect of society. However, private hire and Hackney drivers have continued to play a vital role, and their insecurity and vulnerability has been underscored by their rates of death from COVID-19, occurring at three times the rate of the general adult population, according to ONS figures.

“We hope the longer-standing issues covered in this report will be helpful for understanding the implications of the pandemic for drivers, and for thinking creatively about how to improve their working conditions in the future.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our news site - please take a moment to read this important message:

As you know, our aim is to bring you, the reader, an editorially led news site and magazine but journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them.

With the Covid-19 lockdown having a major impact on our industry as a whole, the advertising revenues we normally receive, which helps us cover the cost of our journalists and this website, have been drastically affected.

As such we need your help. If you can support our news sites/magazines with either a small donation of even £1, or a subscription to our magazine, which costs just £33.60 per year, (inc p&P and mailed direct to your door) your generosity will help us weather the storm and continue in our quest to deliver quality journalism.

As a subscriber, you will have unlimited access to our web site and magazine. You'll also be offered VIP invitations to our events, preferential rates to all our awards and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

Just click here to subscribe and in the meantime may I wish you the very best.






Latest news

Nottingham Contract Research Organisation appoints new Managing Director

HistologiX, a Contract Research Organisation (CRO) offering Histology, IHC and Digital Pathology services, has appointed a new Managing Director to support its growth plans. The...

Acres Engineering invests in safety with new equipment

Derby’s Acres Engineering has invested a 5-figure sum to replace its extraction equipment as it gears up for what it hopes will be a...

New data highlights firms’ concerns over non-negotiated EU exit and lack of preparedness

Three in four businesses are concerned about a further economic shock arising from a non-negotiated exit from the EU, the UK’s biggest trading partner,...

Celebrate success and forge new contacts at the 2020 East Midlands Brick Awards

With the Government giving the go-ahead for business events to recommence from 1 October, this year's highly anticipated East Midlands Bricks Awards presents the...

Beeston cinema development set for December completion after Coronavirus delays

Beeston's new cinema will be handed over to its operators before the end of the year, after Coronavirus saw delays in building work and...

Related news

Nottingham property development company up for two national business awards

A Nottingham-based property development company has been nominated for two national business awards. Hockley Developments has been shortlisted for two SME National Business Awards, with...

Nottingham Contract Research Organisation appoints new Managing Director

HistologiX, a Contract Research Organisation (CRO) offering Histology, IHC and Digital Pathology services, has appointed a new Managing Director to support its growth plans. The...

Acres Engineering invests in safety with new equipment

Derby’s Acres Engineering has invested a 5-figure sum to replace its extraction equipment as it gears up for what it hopes will be a...

New data highlights firms’ concerns over non-negotiated EU exit and lack of preparedness

Three in four businesses are concerned about a further economic shock arising from a non-negotiated exit from the EU, the UK’s biggest trading partner,...