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Transport firm Uber has announced plans to provide sickness and injury insurance and maternity and paternity payments to its drivers in the UK and Europe.
The gig economy firm has faced a lot of criticism over its operational model. Drivers are self employed which means they have not been allowed any basic employment rights.
Uber says: “We wouldn’t be what it is without drivers and couriers – they are at the heart of the Uber experience. But along the way, we lost sight of that. We 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. An important part of being a good partner is being a good listener.”
It says drivers want the freedom to be their own boss and to choose when and where and if they want to work, but they want greater security.
Uber is launching its Partner Protection insurance programme with AXA insurance and this will be funded by Uber at no cost to drivers and delivery partners.
Uber says it covers drivers for major costs or lost income resulting from accidents or injuries that occur on trip. It also provides protection for major life events that happen off trip like severe sickness and injury, maternity or paternity leave and jury duty.
To be eligible for the off-trip insurance, a driver partner must have completed 150 trips in the previous eight weeks; while an Eats partner must have completed at least 30 deliveries in the previous eight weeks to qualify.
Uber says Partner Protection commences from 1 June 2018 and will instantly cover more than 150,000 independent Uber partners across Europe, including 70,000 drivers and couriers in the UK.
James Farrar, chair of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union, felt the move did not go far enough. He said: “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.” He added: “This is once again a case of tinkering around the edges for a quick PR win.”