Essential information for NZ Uber drivers
What transport legislation should I be aware of?
As a transportation provider you will need to follow rules and regulations set by the New Zealand Government.
Some of the important regulations are:
- Land Transport Act 1998 (including the recent ammendments)
- Land Transport Driver Licencing Rule 1999
- Land Transport Rule: Operator Licencing 2017
- Land Transport Rule: Passenger Service Vehicles 1999
- Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004
- Land Transport Rule: Work Time and Logbooks 2007
I have read through all of these documents and the information on the NZTA website so I could make a summary of important points specifically for rideshare drivers only. There is also some information below that you won't find anywhere else. Always refer to official documents for exact rules.
Drivers can use taxi stands (now SPSV stands) if available for hire. Drivers wanting to pick up non pre-registered customers must have an approved security camera (if in certain areas - see nzta website) and the presence of the camera must be notified on the passenger door and in a prominent position inside the vehicle. The basis of the fare calculation must be agreed upfront and no extra charge can be made at end of journey and the driver must be able to issue a receipt (paper or electronic).
Drivers can refuse a fare if they are concerned about their personal safety
It is illegal to consume alcohol in an Uber etc (Summary Offences Act 1981) - fine up to $300
Drivers must take the most advantageous route for the passenger
From the driving position there must be an unobstructed field of view
Loading zones can be used for dropping off passengers (unless specifically banned on sign)
Passenger Service Vehicles are allowed to use transit lanes (unless specifically banned on sign)
PSV's can double park if picking up and dropping off and due consideration is given to safety and convenience of other road users and an alternative stopping spot was unavailable or unreasonable to use.
Mobile Phone use while driving:
Feel free to interpret that yourself!!!
Child restraints are not required and only have to be used if you have one in your car.
If your vehicle has child safety locks you must have a red sticker on your car advising that the door will not open if locks are on (seems to be stating the obvious to me...). The alternative is to remove or permanently disable the child locks. The locks are only to be used at the request of the adjacent passenger or guardian.
What sort of employment agreement do Uber drivers have with Uber?
Uber drivers in NZ now have a business relationship with two different entities. Rasier NZ provides drivers with a "lead generation service" and Uber BV in the Netherlands provides a licence to use the driver app and facilitates payment of fares. Drivers are not employees and are no longer even called independent contractors. Drivers are now described as "independent providers of peer-to-peer passenger transportation services".
Drivers are totally independent and their provision of transportation services is solely between the driver and the rider. All equipment and materials used to carry out the transportation services are provided by the drivers. Uber states that they do not direct or control drivers in carrying out the transport service.
Drivers are free to accept or ignore a ride request and if they don't want to accept rides they should log out of the app.
Drivers are fully liable to users or other third parties in relation to the transport services. This is important when it comes to insurance (see Insurance).
Fare payments by riders for fares are considered to be the same as payments made directly to the driver. Uber passes on these fares after deduction of the service fee which drivers pay for the services mentioned above.
Drivers are fully responsible for their own taxes and gross revenue/turnover is calculated based on the fares that customers pay.
Are Drivers really independent?
The question of whether drivers are truly independent contractors is well above my pay-grade, but many aspects of the job are totally out of the driver's control. How Uber allocates jobs to drivers is a mystery (definitely not always based on the closest driver) and when a job request comes through the driver often has no idea where the rider is going (driving to pick-up point is unpaid). The driver may spend 10 minutes battling through Auckland traffic to end up taking someone 500 metres up the road. Uber also has harsh deactivation policies. I know of instances of drivers having their app access temporarily or permanently removed based on a customer complaint. Some of these complaints may be genuine, but many have proved to be completely false and the driver is often given no chance to properly defend themselves.
Can I drop off and pick up at the airport?
Yes and no. Please check with your local airport for their guidelines. There is a big problem at Auckland Airport where drivers will call the passenger after accepting the trip request. They will ask the passenger where they are going and if they are not going far enough for their liking they will make up a completely fabricated reason why the passenger has to cancel the trip and request another driver. This is completely unacceptable in my opinion and also goes against Uber and NZTA guidelines, but no one seems to be taking any action in this area. This also happens in other areas of the city.
Do I need to register for GST?
That depends on your individual circumstances. See the detailed article in the main menu here.
Do I need to pay ACC levies?
Yes. You will receive an invoice after submitting your tax return. ACC calculator
How do I get Five Star ratings?
There are many different factors that can influence your ratings. I don't claim to be the best driver and know of drivers with higher ratings, but I have done thousands of trips and always had a high rating. Some tips I have are:
1. The customer may be watching your location as soon as you accept the ride (i.e drive to the customer straight away)
2. Don't call the customer unnecessarily
3. Be friendly and professional
4. Above all concentrate on driving. It is no good having water/mints and cool music if you crash into the car in front of you. Probably the most sure way to get a bad rating will relate to not driving smoothly and safely and making navigation errors
5. Help with luggage for airport trips
6. Keep navigation voice directions OFF
7. I have many other useful tips. If you are struggling with your ratings please contact me. Also for Wellington drivers I can refer you to a very high rated and successful driver for advice. For a lot of drivers ratings are not an issue, but others do struggle and will have their account access restricted if they don't stay above the minimum average rating.
Where is Uber active in New Zealand?
Currently in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown, Rotorua, Taupo, Napier & Hastings, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Nelson.
Zoomy operates in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Before you hit the road
The list below is an exhaustive checklist of things you may consider having before you hit the road:
- Drivers Licence
- Passenger Endorsement ID card (displayed vertically where all passengers can see it)
- Small Passenger Service Licence (on windscreen by rego label)
- COF (where WOF sticker would be) and loading limits labels (by rego - hopefully you can still see out of the windscreen..)
- Normal rego label
- Commercial insurance policy
- Phone chargers and multi USB adapter
- Good quality smartphone and data plan
- Cleaning materials (interior and exterior)
- Phone mount
- Dashcam (essential in my opinion)
- Reverse camera
- First Aid Kit
- Water/mints/treats for riders
- AUX cord/Bluetooth for music
- Portable vacuum
- Tool kit
- Torch, important to have a heavy, baton-like flashlight is to be able to see street signs in the dark
- Emesis bags
- Pen and paper
- Business cards
- Police radar or Radarbot app (always follow road rules as well)
- Bluetooth headset
- Air freshener
Can I work for another app based company or conduct any other employment?
Important definitions for completing your logbook:
Cumulative Work Day: This is a period during which work occurred, that does not exceed 24hrs and begins after a continuous period of rest time of at least 10hrs.
Cumulative Work Period: This is a set of cumulative work days between continuous periods of rest time of at least 24 hrs.
Work Time: Includes but is not limited to:
- driving a vehicle for transport services
- carrying goods for hire or reward
- Performing work related duties (loading, maintenance and cleaning - other than unpaid cleaning outside of work hours, admin/paperwork)
- Any other paid employment whether or not related to transport activities
A cumulative work day may not exceed 13 hrs of work time and must have at least 10 hrs of continuous rest time. So during 24 hrs, work must be completed within a 14 hr window to allow for 10 hrs rest.
In any cumulative work period a driver may not exceed 70hrs of work time.
- on rank
- cruising for hire
- doing admin work
- driving passengers
- cleaning and checking car
- any other work related duties
- any other paid work
- all time that is not work time and is at least 30 mins and not spent in a moving work vehicle
You must take a break of at least 30 mins after seven hrs (if doing short trips (less than 100km) around the city)
No work related activities (even filling up petrol) are allowed during the 30 min break.
Records to be kept (if self employed or employing someone or using contractors)
- time records, wage records and other related employment records
- accomodation records and receipts if relevant
- fuel records and receipts
(must be kept for 12 mths)
If working for an SPSL holder you must deliver a copy of your logbook within 14 days after the end of your cumulative work period.
Logbooks must be kept for 12 mths after date of last entry
You must carry your logbook at all times if driving your work vehicle
You may have a defence for a worktime offence in the case of circumstances that could not reasonably have been foreseen such as a state of emergency, incident attended by emergency services or an event requiring immediate action to save life or serious injury.
You can use the SPSL of someone facilitating your connection to passengers (i.e Uber or Zoomy).
You can also drive under your own SPSL or work for/contract to an SPSL holder. If you operate without an SPSL you can face fines of $10,000 - $25,000 and possible impoundment of vehicles.
It is also an offence to use a transport service if you know or ought to reasonably know that the operator does not have a transport licence. Possible fine $25,000.
A Small Passenger Service Operator must ensure that their drivers have:
- P Endorsement
- Follow work time rules
- Have an ID card
- Have a COF
- Records must be kept proving above
- Must advise NZTA of improper behaviour
- Must keep a record of complaints
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