Uber resourceful? Uber drivers compensated with free English course

There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the employment status of Uber drivers (are they self-employed contractors or are they employees?). To keep its drivers sweet, Uber notoriously offers an array of incentives, recently adding to its roster a free 12-month premium subscription to Busuu, a language learning app.

The offering comes during the fallout of a new rule endorsed by Transport for London (TfL), namely that drivers working for ride-hail apps have to pass an English qualification. Given that, as of last week, the requirement was deferred until September, giving drivers seven months to prepare, Uber’s latest incentive is a step towards ensuring their drivers are up to scratch.

Until now, the company has expressed disdain for the proposed examination, which requires that drivers complete several short essays. Uber has got behind the idea that users should have basic English language speaking and listening skills, but view the TfL plan as draconian: “TfL’s plans threaten the livelihoods of thousands of drivers in London, while also stifling tech companies like Uber,” said Tom Elvidge, general manager for Uber London.

The company is still looking to appeal the ruling, but must prepare for the worst lest their endeavours to lift the requirement come to nothing. Hence it looks like the Busuu subscription makes a savvy addition to Uber’s array of benefits, which now include FlexPay, an option that lets drivers cash out their earnings before payday, in addition to the ‘Driver Destinations’ feature, which aims to align prospective passengers with distance in which the driver himself wants to go.

In addition, Uber offers ‘Earning Advice Sessions’, purporting to help drivers maximise their time. “Everyone is welcome,” it stipulates, “But we’ll be sending individual invitations to partners who are making less than the hourly average.”

And whilst the free subscription could prove a pivotal tool in fostering a valuable life-skill, the downside is that Uber drivers’ increased comprehension of the English language means they’re more susceptible to native speakers’ drunken nonsense. For drivers milling about Clapham South on a Friday night, you have our thoughts, our prayers, and our utmost sympathy.

Image: freestocks.org used under Creative Commons.

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