Uber and Lyft drivers in San Francisco will have to register for a business permit if they want to continue earning money from giving and sharing rides. City Treasurer Jose Cisneros has begun sending out letters to 37,018 drivers in the city letting them know of the new requirement, according to SFGate. It's unclear how Cisneros got a hold of their names and why he's suddenly decided to enforce a new rule. But SFGate notes that the city is basically telling the companies that if they refuse to recognize their drivers as employees, then they have to require them to get business permits as contractors. Also, if every driver applies for one, which costs $91 a year for those who make $100,000 or less in gross receipts, then the city will make $3.37 million a year.
If you'll recall, both companies faced and continue to battle lawsuits regarding their drivers' status. In California, a number of contractors filed a class action suit in their quest to be recognized as employees. Anyone who wants to continue driving for either company has to register within 30 days of receiving the letter. Part of the missive says "Failure to respond... may result in penalties and payment obligations." They can file for an application through San Francisco's newly launched online business registration system.
In a statement sent to SFGate, Uber says that as independent contractors, its drivers "are responsible for following appropriate local requirements." Lyft spokesperson Chealsea Wilson, however, didn't bother hiding her company's issue with the new requirement. "We have serious concerns with the city's plan to collect and display Lyft drivers' personal information in a publicly available database," she told the publication. "People in San Francisco, who are choosing to drive with Lyft to help make ends meet, shouldn't have to compromise their privacy in order to share a ride."