No sex, no flirting: Uber’s new hands-off rules
UBER drivers have been banned from flirting with passengers, shaking their hands or asking if they are single as the company pushes a strict "no sex" policy in the wake of several high-profile sexual assault allegations.
Drivers will also be at risk of losing their jobs if they engage in "uncomfortable" conversations such as politics or religion.
"We want Uber to be enjoyable and safe for everyone," the new guidelines say.
"These ground rules are designed to ensure that riders and drivers have a five star ride when using Uber.
"Most important of all, remember that when you use Uber you will meet people who may look different or think differently from you. Please respect those differences. We want everyone to feel welcome when they use Uber."
The new guidelines also warn drivers not to have sex with any of their clients or compliment their looks.
"Please don't comment on someone's appearance or ask whether they are single … and don't touch or flirt with other people in the car. As a reminder, Uber has a no-sex rule. That's no sexual conduct between drivers and riders, no matter what."
Last month an Uber driver was charged in relation to the rape of a 17-year-old girl who passed out in the back of his car after a night of drinking in central Sydney.
Police allege the driver raped the girl while she was unconscious during the trip.
Late last year a jury found Uber driver Muhammad Naveed, 41, guilty of raping a woman in her 20s outside a Kings Cross nightclub.
The new guidelines will come into effect on September 19 and will give both riders and drivers the ability to report each other for breaches.
"If we are made aware of these kinds of problematic behaviour, we will contact you so we can investigate them," the guidelines say.
"Depending on the nature of the concern, we may put a hold on your account during our investigation. If the issues raised are serious or a repeat offence, or you refuse to co-operate, you may lose access to Uber.
"Any behaviour involving violence, sexual misconduct, harassment, discrimination, or illegal activity while using Uber can result in the immediate loss of access to your account."
Uber warned both drivers and passengers not to ask "overly personal questions" during rides.
The Daily Telegraph talked to several Uber drivers who had encountered sexual harassment incidents from their passengers themselves, with one driver saying that his worst experience came from a group of male passengers that "had the windows down, yelling out the windows trying to call out to women" as they went past.
"It's not good for me, I didn't feel good about it," he said. "I was happy to get them out of the car."
Another driver said that although Uber is rife with "drunken violence" over weekends, the new guidelines would help protect drivers and penalise passengers if they were physically assaulted.