Uber Tests Out New Feature That Lets Drivers Set Their Own Fares

Published on January 22, 2020

Uber is testing a new feature in California that will let some drivers set their own fares. The new feature will allow drivers to set the fare up to five times higher than Uber’s designated fare, giving drivers more freedom to earn a livable income in the wake of California’s new law toward how gig work gets taxed.

While the greater income appears to help drivers, it may create a bid war where drivers have to actively lower prices in order to get rides. The new feature gives drivers with the lowest fares advantage, sending customers to them first before allowing the more expensive drivers to accept a ride.

For now, the new feature is being tested only in smaller cities like Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, and is limited to rides coming from airports. The company reportedly wants to see how users and drivers respond to the changes before it implements the feature in major areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco. But with changes to how gig workers can earn an income, Uber is having to implement new changes with little time to prepare.

Uber Fights Changes To The Gig Economy In California

The new laws regarding how gig workers can be paid has impacted companies like Uber and Lyft that rely on gig workers to run their companies. The bill, which is called Assembly Bill 5, puts greater limitations on how many projects gig workers can complete per year before their clients must pay them like employees.

The intention of the bill is to protect gig workers from working hours comparable to part or full-time work where they would otherwise qualify for benefits like healthcare and a 401K, but the reality is that it forces companies like Uber and Lyft to restructure their interfaces to accommodate, forcing gig workers to question what their futures look like within the company.

For freelance workers, the future is much less clear. In many cases, women who opt for freelance gigs in order to maintain a balance of work and raising kids now question whether or not the restructured system will allow them the freedom to work from home and for themselves in the same ways.

The bill, which states that gig workers can only work a certain amount of projects per year, limits how much income people can earn as gig workers or freelancers. In a place like California where technology and entertainment reign as major businesses, the changes could force millions of workers to rethink how they earn an income. That is, if the state is serious about enforcing the law.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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