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Shasiq Ahmed

Uber do not regulate the hours that drivers can work and I fell into the trap of doing 20 hours a day, non-stop.

But, when it gets to the point where a passenger asks, ‘Are you okay?’ – because he thinks you are about to fall asleep at the wheel – then you know you are working too many hours.

But, even when I did a 20 hour shift, the Uber app still encouraged me to carry on working. I got sucked in to working longer shifts, which is crazy and very dangerous.

On weekdays I would start at 7 o’clock in the morning and work through to 10 or 12 o’clock at night. And then at the weekend, I would start at 7 o’clock on Friday morning and finish at 5 o’clock on Saturday morning. Then start again at 10 o’clock on Saturday morning and work through until 5 o’clock on Sunday morning.

It was just the corporate mentality of Uber. They give incentives to drivers to work non-stop and there is nothing on the app which encourages drivers to work safe hours or take regular breaks.

I got sucked in and I can tell you now that there were several occasions when I could feel that my eyes were starting to close. That is why I eventually had to leave.

I think many drivers set themselves a target of earning £1,000 a week, but to do £1,000 a week with Uber you would have to do at least 80 hours plus.

But it is all too easy to get caught up in it. Uber offer incentives and put anyone who has done 90 trips in a set period into a draw for a prize fund of £5,000.

They are constantly encouraging you to take more and more jobs, it is endless.

I know what Uber will come back with and say. They will say, ‘Show us one driver that has done 20 hours straight’ and I won’t be able to.

But, that is misleading. If an Uber driver takes a comfort break for five minutes, then the clock starts again from when they log back in. So, it won’t show anyone who has done 20 hours in a row.

I could do three eight hour shifts in a row with five minutes break in between and the system will not show that I have been working a 24-hour shift.

I worked for Uber for around four months and for the first five weeks, my ratings by customers were 100 per cent.

I consider myself a professional and I enjoy driving and enjoy talking to passengers but, in the end, I was so tired and I could not offer a good customer service.

The long hours culture is a real problem and I just got caught up in it. I really and sincerely believe that I could have killed myself or one of my passengers because I was working too many hours.

NEW COMPANY, NEW START – I’m now with a small local private hire firm in Chiswick and earnings wise, last week I took home £800, after commission, for about 60 hours work.

With Uber, to make the same amount of money I would have had to have worked at least 70 or 80 hours.

Now, at this new company I’m driving for, I actually did 80 hours in the first week – because I was so used to doing such long shifts!

But, they called me in and told me to take more breaks and not to work so long.

Unlike with Uber, with these guys, if you work too many hours, the controller will pull you in and have a chat with you. Whereas, with Uber, you could work 24/7 and nobody would say anything.

Thankfully I don’t work such crazily long hours anymore and I feel so much better for it. And believe me, it really does make a huge difference.

I feel fresh when I’m driving now. I don’t feel groggy anymore and about to fall asleep at any moment as I am driving along.

Before, at Uber, in the culture of, ‘more, more, more,’ I ended up wanting more and doing more and not realising how many hours I was actually doing. Now, I actually feel safe to drive.

UBER COMMENT – A spokesman for Uber said: “UberX partner-drivers in London are logged in to the app for an average of 27 hours per week and we take this issue very seriously and regularly discuss driving habits when on the platform with partners.

The main reason thousands of professional drivers choose to partner with Uber is so they can become their own boss, pick their own hours and work completely flexibly.

“Partners who drive too many hours on the platform receive a message from us about safe driving. Uber’s feedback process flags any issues in real time so we can take action and partner-drivers who drive irresponsibly risk losing access to the Uber app.”

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