Uber to offer employee benefits

Ride hailing company Uber is to give its self-employed drivers a package of work-related benefits, including access to medical cover, compensation for work-related injuries, sick pay, parental leave and bereavement payments, under a deal signed with insurer Axa

The company says all eligible independent drivers registered with the Uber app are automatically protected by the insurance, with no need to sign up or pay any money. 

Uber said the aim was to help protect against the risk of lost income due to accidents or injuries that could occur while ‘on-trip’ and ‘off-trip’.

It also offers insurance protection to eligible drivers for some life events that happen while not working, but still impact their ability to make money. Cover includes inconvenience compensation for injuries and severe sickness, and one-off payments for maternity/paternity and jury service.

To be eligible for the off-trip insurance, an Uber driver must have completed 150 trips in the previous eight weeks; while a delivery driver on Eats must have completed at least 30 deliveries in the previous eight weeks to qualify. 

The gig economy start-up has come under pressure in several jurisdictions over its working practices, and is due in court next month to appeal against a proposed ban on its operations by Transport for London.

Announcing its new ‘partner protection’ programme, Uber said in a statement: ‘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.’

Under the insurance, anyone  unable to work as a result of an accident on-trip, will receive a daily payment for up to 30 days whilst medically certified by a doctor as unfit to work. In the event of a driver’s death, dependents or heirs will get a lump sum payment (£50,000) plus funeral expenses (£6,000). There is also a lump sum payment to cover a permanent disability as a result of an accident on-trip, of up to £50,000.

Off-trip benefits include one-off payments covering maternity/paternity (£1,000) or jury service (£500). A driver who suffers a serious illness or injury at any time and is medically certified by a doctor as unfit to work for over seven days will be eligible to receive a daily payment of £75 for up to 15 further days.

Partner Protection commences from 1 June 2018 and will instantly cover more than 150,000 independent Uber partners across Europe.

In February, the government announced plans to enforce vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay under its ‘Good Work plan’, launched in the wake of the Taylor review of working practices.

Taylor suggested there needed to be a new category of ‘worker’ to cover those operating in the gig economy, along with better protection and greater access to benefits for the self employed.

The government has four consultations running looking at the review’s recommendations, including one which is considering how to make the employment status rules for employment rights and tax clearer for individuals and businesses, which closes on 1 June.

Report by Pat Sweet

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