Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Releases Report on Uber Driver Background Check Process

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Releases Report on Uber Driver Background Check Process

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On March 28, 2019, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) released its first-ever report of Uber’s driver background check process in Pennsylvania – along with Uber’s implementation plan in the state – and directed Uber Technologies, Inc. to proceed with recommendations to further strengthen Uber’s background check process in the future, according to a press release on the Pennsylvania PUC website.

Pennsylvania Report on Uber Driver Background Check Process

The report included a study of the Uber driver background check practices and service agreements with the background check provider of Rasier-PA LLC, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber and the largest transportation network company (TNC) operating in Pennsylvania. The report includes the following seven major recommendations for improvements related to background checks and rider safety:

  • Strengthen the background check process and continuous monitoring features;
  • Redesign the Safety Toolkit icon allowing for quicker and easier identification;
  • Explore ways to reduce the level of insufficient information in the complaint investigation process;
  • Partner with all transportation market participants to explore the development of a database to readily identify deactivated users to supplement the driver background check monitoring process;
  • Complete the development and implementation of key safety related initiatives;
  • Reevaluate tracked performance metrics and establish goals for critical metrics; and,
  • Formalize business process and procedure documentation.

Uber’s implementation plan – which was submitted after completion of the review – fully or partially accepts all the PUC recommendations and details how those matters will be addressed moving forward. The issues identified in the detailed review included how background check monitoring for Pennsylvania drivers can be improved and improving the visibility of Uber’s mobile apps toolkit of safety features.

In November 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 164 of 2016, providing for permanent statewide authority for TNCs, often referred to as ride-hailing or ride-sharing services. Prior to Act 164, several TNCs were granted temporary experimental authority to operate in the state while developing a regulatory framework to address consumer safety matters such as driver background checks.

This is not the first time Uber’s driver background check process has come under scrutiny. In April 2018, a CNN investigation found at least 103 drivers working for Uber in the United States “have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers in the past four years” and as many as “31 drivers have been convicted for crimes ranging from forcible touching and false imprisonment to rape.”

In April 2018, Uber said it would increase due diligence to strengthen its background checks. In a blog titled ‘Getting serious about safety,’ Uber Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dara Khosrowshahi wrote that Uber has “conducted criminal and driving record screenings on millions of people” since the company started nearly nine years ago and will strengthen its driver screening with annual background checks.

In July 2018, Uber began performing continuous background checks on some of its drivers in the United States in an effort to improve safety for its riders following the CNN investigations. “Ultimately what we’re looking for… is a way to get the same kind of info as in a background check, but get it in a real-time manner,” Uber Vice President of Safety and Insurance Gus Fuldner told new media company Axios.

The fast-growing extended workforce in a “gig economy” that focuses on temporary work – or “gigs” – such as TNCs like Uber is forecast to include an estimated 7.6 million Americans by 2020, according to a study from Intuit. Employers will need to strengthen background checks for the growing on-demand workforce in America although the process may require a different approach than what is used in the full-time economy.

Reports about some “gig economy” employers using cheap and instant background checks will lead those employers to examine the value of these background checks due to the examples of theft and violence experienced in 2019. This trend has been chosen by global background check provider Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2019.

More ESR News Blogs about Uber Driver Background Check Process

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider headquartered in the San Francisco, California area – offers more ESR News blogs about the Uber driver background check process and also offers gig economy employers screening solutions for the on demand extended workforce. For more information, visit www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Industry-Specific-Solutions/On-Demand/.

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