Uber should provide additional protection for its drivers and couriers across Europe, with limited insurance against disease and injury, as well as small payments for pregnancy and childbirth and paternity.
The ride-hailing service said a new insurance policy, to be provided free to its drivers, would give them “peace of mind while preserving the flexibility they value”.
The cover starts in June for drivers who have completed 150 trips in the past two months, or Uber Eats couriers who have completed at least 30 deliveries. Payouts for a baby are £1,000; sick pay for injured drivers after a week is capped at £1,125.
But James Farrar, the chair of the united private hire drivers branch of the gig economy union IWGB, said the deal was just “tinkering around the edges” instead of guaranteeing drivers’ employment rights.
“It’s good to see Uber is reacting to the pressure piled on by the IWGB’s campaigns and legal action,” he said.
“Sadly, this is once again a case of tinkering around the edges for a quick PR win, rather than dealing with the issue at hand. If Uber really cares about the workers on which the business relies, it should stop fighting us in court and give the drivers the rights they are entitled to under the law.”
The GMB union said Uber was starting to listen to its members’ complaints about employment rights.
Mick Rix, the national officer, said: “This is a major step in the right direction, but our successful court victories, winning workers’ rights for Uber drivers, could have all been avoided if they had sat down and talked with GMB from the start.
Uber has fought claims from drivers who argue that the technology firm is their employer and should provide benefits such as paid time off, and is continuing its legal appeal after British tribunals ruled against them.
While Uber insists that most drivers prefer to be self-employed, the latest move is another step in its efforts to show itself as a “better partner”, after a string of controversies and the decision by local authorities in London and other UK cities to refuse .
Announcing the move in Paris at President Emmanuel Macron’s Tech for Good summit, Uber’s , said drivers were “at the heart of the Uber experience”.
He said: “We’re committed to being better a partner, and that starts by being a better listener. That’s why I’m thrilled to provide this groundbreaking protection alongside a trusted insurer like AXA, giving our drivers and couriers the peace of mind they tell us they want while preserving the flexibility they value.”
In a blogpost confirming the details, Uber said: “We called drivers ‘partners’ but didn’t always act like it.”
The insurance will give some protection against major costs or lost income resulting from accidents or injuries while working, as well as an element of sick or parental leave through one-off payments.
A similar scheme was announced this month by Deliveroo, who gave its riders accident insurance towards medical expenses and loss of earnings.