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January 8, 2020 5:15 PM, EST

Uber Tweaks App in California to Comply With State Law

An Uber office in Secaucus, N.J., in November 2019. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

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Uber Technologies Inc. overhauled its ride-hailing app for California users, tweaking fares and features to respond to a new state law designed to reclassify drivers as employees.

While the San Francisco-based company announced the changes last month, a Jan. 8 email to California riders heralded they were now live.

Changes for passengers include a shift from showing upfront pricing on trips to showing an estimated price range, the ability to schedule rides with favorite drivers and adjustments to a rewards program. For drivers, the revamp includes an end to flat surge pricing and the ability to quickly see how much they will make on each ride. Critically, drivers won’t get punished for rejecting trips they don’t want to make.

Uber included a cautionary note, however, that drivers shouldn’t refuse trips solely to avoid certain neighborhoods as it violates the company’s policy and California law.

Changes to Uber’s app in California come just days after the state’s Assembly Bill 5 went into effect, which Uber and Postmates are attempting to block with a recent lawsuit against the state.

Uber, along with Lyft Inc. and DoorDash Inc., is also working to put an initiative on the November ballot that would roll back the law while guaranteeing minimum pay and some benefits for drivers.

While Uber has publicly downplayed the impact of AB 5, some analysts have said it’s a concern. Prices for California rides could increase as much as 30% as a result of the new law, according to industry estimates.

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