Uber is testing out a new feature that allows some drivers to choose how much they will charge customers.
The pilot test, which is taking place at three California airports, is Uber’s latest response to a new California law known as AB5 that makes it more difficult for employers in the state to classify workers as independent contractors.
The new feature will enable drivers at the Santa Barbara, Sacramento and Palm Springs airports to set a fair based on a multiple of Uber’s base, time and distance rates for UberX and UberXL trips.
Riders will be paired with drivers offering the lowest rate, according to the company. Drivers who wish to earn more per ride will have to wait longer for trips. Uber’s app will show them a time estimate of how long they’ll likely have to wait before picking up a passenger. The driver can then adjust their rate based on how long they wish to wait.
Uber described the new feature as a way to preserve flexible work for tens of thousands of California drivers. The company said it is an initial test and plans to make additional changes to improve drivers’ control over their pay.
California’s new law, which went into effect on January 1, requires employers to provide minimum wage, workers’ compensation, overtime pay, sick time and unemployment insurance to any worker that it cannot prove is an independent contractor.
Some critics have suggested that the recent move to allow drivers to set their own rates is a way for Uber to garner support in its fight against AB5.