Confusion over taxi contracts

Taxis waiting for passengers on the first day of the Eid holiday near the Abu Dhabi bus terminal. Ravindranath K / The National
Taxis waiting for passengers on the first day of the Eid holiday near the Abu Dhabi bus terminal. Ravindranath K / The National

Taxis are a key component of our transport infrastructure. They are ubiquitous, clean and efficient. The nature of the employment contracts given to taxi drivers, however, is in need of clarity. As The National reported yesterday, some drivers are considering extreme action if commitments in their contracts, such as regular days off, paid annual leave, an air ticket home and sick pay, are not fulfilled.

The issue is whether drivers are employees or contractors. Many drivers arrive in Abu Dhabi as employees of a taxi company, with contracts that entitle them to this standard basket of benefits. This is where the problem arises.

The structure of the job does not necessarily correspond to that of a standard office employee. For example, drivers are often given monthly quotas for revenue. The driver is then left to determine what hours to work and, once the target is met, is given a share of the take. This type of work is closer to that of a contractor or someone given a specific short- or medium-term task and remunerated accordingly.

Given the apparent blending of traditional employee contract provisions with that of a contractor, many taxi drivers have expectations that cannot be fulfilled. For the individual driver this is a stressful situation that results in an excessive burden on Abu Dhabi’s overall transport system.

Thankfully, the solution to the problem is a straightforward one. Taxi operators should clarify whether their drivers are employees or contractors, and produce new contracts that make the distinction clear. These should then be submitted to TransAD, the taxi regulation authority, to prevent any misunderstanding between driver and operator. Removing flawed contracts that cannot be fulfilled will benefit all parties and, perhaps more importantly, improve efficiency in this sector of the capital’s transport infrastructure. As the city continues to grow, transport systems will become ever more important. Best to make sure the taxi drivers are clear from the start about their role in the system.

Published: September 20, 2016 04:00 AM

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