Uber drivers in California recently got features that drivers in other states would be jealous of. This new feature allows them to view their potential passengers’ destinations before accepting trips. That is they also get to see how much they will potentially earn from rides.
Additionally, they’ll also have the ability to reject ones that don’t seem worthwhile.
However, Uber’s intent might have been a means to an end. The new feature could also help make its case that California’s new gig worker law, AB 5, shouldn’t apply to it.
This feature is apparently the result of a secret project Uber internally refers to as “Project Luigi”. The Washington Post reports that internal emails allegedly state that Project Luigi is a “critical project around AB5.”
Staff in the company who worked on it reportedly got dedicated office space for the project.
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AB 5 was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September 2019 and went into effect on 1st January 2020.
The law gives gig workers more labor protections by classifying them as employees instead of as independent contractors. Meaning they now have entitlement to basic labor rights, such as minimum wage guarantees, overtime pay and health benefits.
Uber Relinquishing control of drivers with Project Luigi
The AB 5 law puts all companies using independent contractors in California to a three-part test to determine whether they must reclassify their workers.
One of the elements the test considers the amount of control a company has over its workers. Items like whether workers wear uniforms, have a set schedule and make set wages are critical.
But as Uber now lets drivers decide what rides they can take, it means the ride-hailing service is relinquishing control on its drivers.
“We’re making a number of changes to the Uber marketplace, which tens of thousands of California drivers use to find flexible work,” an Uber spokesman said in an email to CNET when asked about Project Luigi.
He further said:
“While we are confident that drivers are already correctly classified, these product changes will further strengthen drivers’ independence and preserve their ability to work when, where and how they want.”
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