e-Hailing companies should do more in helping drivers

e-Hailing companies should strongly support ride-hailing drivers to reduce their burden.

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Published by Business Today & Focus Malaysia, image from Business Today.

There is a need for e-hailing companies to offer additional financial support to the e-hailing drivers to assist them in dealing with their reduced incomes, particularly at this period of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic outbreak that has worsened what was already a dire economic situation before.

e-Hailing drivers are seeing the level of their incomes depleting, which leads them to move to big cities in search of higher demand from customers. But taking their business and service to the big cities isn’t a guarantee that incomes will automatically rise. Thus, e-hailing companies should step in to assist their drivers solve their difficulties.

In order to solve the problem of lower income, e-hailing companies should help bear the financial burden or, otherwise, the e-hailing drivers may not be able to cope with rising costs. With lower incomes, e-hailing drivers will have lower purchasing power and problems sustaining their livelihoods.

Therefore, in the first place, instead of government putting a cap on the limits of the fares, e-hailing companies should raise the minimum fare for every ride in order to protect drivers’ incomes. The higher fare is justifiable because e-hailing drivers need to bear the maintenance costs such as regular car maintenance fee.

Furthermore, sometimes the e-hailing drivers need to go through bad traffic days especially during peak hours which will lead to higher fuel consumption – another cost for them.

In some cases, the e-hailing drivers even have to bear the car cleaning fees due to the customer accidentally dumping drink or food, vomiting or having children urinating. So, by raising the minimum fare charged to the customers, e-hailing drivers can enjoy higher incomes to cover their maintenance fees and cleaning fees.

Some customers may request or even force e-hailing drivers to take longer routes without toll due to their refusal to pay for the toll charges. In this case, the e- hailing drivers will then need to cover the extra cost on petrol and mileage due to longer distance, which the higher fare could partially cover.

In other cases, customers may even refuse to pay for the toll charges upon reaching the destination on the ground that the e-hailing application does not show the toll charges, although the application does say charges do not include toll which is to be borne by the customers. As a result, the e-hailing driver need to bear the toll charges by themselves and this results in lower incomes.

However, this idea may be a downside to the customers due to the higher costs which they have to bear when using e-hailing services, which means the increased fare shouldn’t be too excessive.

In addition, e-hailing companies should update their e-hailing applications regularly to improve its efficiency for the convenience of the users namely the drivers when they are on duties.

For instance, e-hailing drivers have complained that their mobile phone sounds would automatically be lowered down to a minimum after opening the app, affecting Waze’s navigation assistance as well as their work efficiency and their safety.

Therefore, e-hailing companies should update the app in an attempt to fix bugs and improve the experience for their drivers, as these features have been largely ignored. Ignorance toward this issue will also cause negative effects on workers’ income opportunities due to technical problems of the applications.

Moreover, e-hailing drivers can be helped with e-hailing companies expanding insurance coverage to ensure that the drivers are adequately protected. Currently, e-hailing companies offer insurance package that covers passengers and drivers against injury in an accident during working hours.

However, this insurance does not cover a range of other unfortunate events that may occur while serving passengers. For example, a driver facing an accident that causes damage to the car, will not be able to claim for the personal accident insurance provided by the e-hailing companies.

In addition, most private car insurance does not cover accidents which occur during commercial activities. This means that if the e-hailing drivers make a living by using their own cars, such as serving passengers, they cannot claim for compensation should an accident occurs during the trip.

In short, e-hailing companies should expand insurance coverage to protect drivers’ safety, which will affect their income level.

Since this issue is current and relatable to drivers’ livelihoods and the cost of living, they need to be addressed so that welfare of the drivers is not taken for granted.  

The gig economy should provide extra protection for drivers’ incomes because drivers are unable to find methods to increase their income unless they work long hours, which puts them at higher risk of accidents.

Jamari Mohtar and Tam Mei Si are part of the research team of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

中文

刊登在:The Malaysian Insight, 图片来源:The Malaysian Insight.

电召车公司(e-hailing companies)应该要以身作则,提供电召车司机(e-hailing drivers)额外资金援助,帮助他们应对收入减少的问题。特别是现今新冠肺炎不断爆发的时期,电召车司机将会面临更严峻的经济挑战。

近年来,很多电召车司机因收入水平下滑而迁往大城市,以拥有更多的客户。但迁往大城市并不能保障他们的收入能够就此增长。

随着电召车司机的收入下滑,他们的购买能力也就此下降,维持生计也会遇到瓶颈。因此,电召车公司应该积极地帮助司机,解决他们的困境。否则,他们将无法应对不断上涨的生活开支。

因此,政府首先要做的是不该给车费设上限,电召车公司应提高每次出行的最低收费,以保护司机的利益。较高收费是合理的,因为电召车司机需要承担维修费用,如定期维修汽车费用。

此外,当电召车司机在高峰时段经历交通诸塞时,他们将会消耗更多的燃料 – 是一个极大的经济负担。

在某些情况下,当顾客不小心倾倒饮料或食物、呕吐,电召车司机甚至还需要承担洗车费用。因此,通过提高向客户收取的最低费用,电召车司机才能享有更高的收入,以支付维修和清洁费。

为了避免支付过路费,有些客户甚至要求电召车司机走较长的路线。在这种情况下,电召车司机将需支付额外的汽油和里程数费用。因此更高的收费是需要的,以支付这些费用。

由于电召车应用程序没有显示过路费,导致用户拒绝支付过路费的窘境不断发生。(尽管应用程序已表明,电召车的收费不包括乘客应承担的过路费。)在这种情况下,电召车司机只能自掏腰包承担过路费,让他们的收入更为削减。

然而,提高最低收费这一想法对乘客来说是不利的,因为这意味着他们需要支付更高的电召车收费。因此,电召车公司不能过于提高收费,以保障乘客利益。

此外,电召车公司应定期更新他们的应用软件,方便其用户,即电召车司机,好让他们提高接送乘客的效率。

例如,有些电召车司机曾抱怨说,他们的手机声音在打开应用程序后自动降低到最低限度。这将影响他们使用导航软件的工作效率及安全。

果电招车司机以自己的车代步,比如为乘客服务,他们不能因发生事故而向私人保险公司索赔。(图:欧新社)
果电招车司机以自己的车代步,比如为乘客服务,他们不能因发生事故而向私人保险公司索赔。(图:欧新社)

因此,电召车公司应升级应用软件,试图修复漏洞,改善电召车司机的体验。如果这一问题被忽视,不仅电召车司机的工作效率及安全受到影响,他们很有可能会因技术问题而收不到订单。这将对他们的收入造成负面影响。

从另一个角度来看,电召车公司应为电召车司机扩大保险范围,以确保司机得到充分的保障。目前,电召车公司仅为司机和乘客提供交通事故受伤有关的保险。

然而,该保险不包括电召车司机因交通事故而产生的汽车损坏,让电召车司机无法从电召车公司索赔。

此外,大多数私人保险公司的保险都没提供任何商业活动期间所发生的事故保障。这意味着,如果电召车司机以自己的车代步,比如为乘客服务,他们不能因发生事故而向私人保险公司索赔。

总而言之,电召车公司应扩大保险范围,以保护旗下司机的安全。

由于这和司机生计息息相关,因此需被重视和解决,以免司机福利被忽视。零工经济(Gig economy)应为司机收入给予额外保障,因为司机本身没有其他增加收入来源。除非他们长时间工作,但这将让他们面临更高的事故风险。

贾马利莫达和覃美思是EMIR Research智库的研究团队的一份子,EMIR Research是一个独立的智囊团,专注于根据严格的研究提出战略政策建议。

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