Future of Work

Ride hailing firm Uber will give its European drivers access to medical cover and compensation for work-related injuries. The new protections include sick pay, parental leave and bereavement payments.

Uber said it previously “focused too much on growth and not enough on the people who made that growth possible”.

“We called drivers ‘partners’, but didn’t always act like it,” said Uber’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi.

The insurance and compensation package will be available to all Uber drivers and Uber Eats delivery couriers across Europe.

However, unions have questioned whether the package is new.

In April 2017, Uber announced illness and injury insurance cover for its drivers.

‘Not nearly enough’

Uber drivers who wanted to join the scheme were required to pay £2 a week.

“I’m highly suspicious – is this a revamp, is this another bite of the cherry to make themselves look caring. What’s the story here?” said Steve Garelick, regional organiser for gig economy and transport for GMB union.

James Farrar, the lead claimant in an employment tribunal case against Uber and chair of United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch of the IWGB union, told the BBC: “This is not nearly enough. We have statutory rights under the law. What Uber has given us are cosmetic benefits that can be taken away at any time.”

Uber’s announcement comes before an appeal hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court on 25 June, where a judge will decide whether Transport for London (TfL) should renew Uber’s private hire operating licence in London.

TfL withdrew Uber’s operating licence in September on the grounds of “public safety and security implications”.

Uber has been allowed to continue operating in the city while it appealed against the decision.

Uber will provide drivers with a range of insurance coverage and compensation resulting from accidents or injuries that occur while they are working, as well as protection for “major life events” that happen whether the driver is on a shift or not.

A spokesperson Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London said: “With the expansion of the gig economy, too many Londoners still suffer from low pay, and a lack of security at work.

“Sadiq therefore welcomes any commitment to give drivers and couriers in London more security through access to sick pay, and maternity and paternity pay, and the Mayor hopes it becomes the norm across the gig economy.”

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