Uber drivers from non-English speaking countries will have to pass an English test before they can be allowed to drive with Uber in London. This law and its associated costs will not only pose a strong problem for new drivers, it is a problem for existing drivers who would have to renew their licenses sooner or later and be subjected to this rule.
What the Rule States
Starting October 1, 2016, drivers from non-English speaking countries will have to pass an English test before securing a private hire permit in London.
In 2015, plans had been made for a short English Listening Test and Uber in London had no real issues with that. This rule would see new Uber drivers from non-English speaking countries sit for a 2 hour level B1 written English Test at a cost of £200.
A CNN post states: “The language skill level required to pass the B1 exam is described as the ability to express oneself in a limited way in familiar situations and to deal in a general way with non-routine information. It roughly corresponds to the language skills of 9 to 11 year old native speakers. The exam includes a two-hour reading and writing test and a shorter speaking and listening test. That’s harder than the English exam needed to secure British Citizenship, which only tests speaking and listening.”
What Uber Thinks
Tom Elvidge, Uber’s general manager in London stated that: “new rules are now being introduced that will be bad for both drivers and tech companies like Uber”. As the previously referenced CNN post also reports, Uber says the new rules will affect thousands of drivers applying for a new license or renewing their existing one: “If they do not pay for and pass a B1 written English test then they will lose their license and thus their livelihood.”
Taking a critical look at facts, the statistics available to Uberkit.net shows that only 0.5% of all Uber rider feedbacks in London is about poor English. This figure is certainly negligible– definitely not worth the stress or even the £200 required for the English test. Uber drivers are already bombarded with rigorous checks before securing a private hire license in London. They are also now requested to have had their full driving license for at least three years. It begs the question, is there is anything else needed to ensure top-notch service and even security that hasn’t already been catered for?
It is hard not to assume this test will create hassles for a targeted minority. Although it is essential that Uber drivers be able to grasp the English language, a simpler and cheaper test to gauge language comprehension skills would have certainly sufficed. We also gathered that Uber in London is being asked to report changes made to the app to TFL authorities before making them. There are also plans by the TFL to ensure that Uber drivers are covered by “hire and reward” commercial insurance even if they only work during set periods.
To round off this post, a nagging question to be asked is: what if this is even more political than we think? We will leave that to you our readers. Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
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