Uber to implement paid protection benefits for 150,000 drivers

Taxi and delivery organisation Uber is to introduce paid protection benefits and one-off life event payments for 150,000 independent contractors across the UK and Europe.

The new funded benefits, effective from 1 June 2018, have been designed to help provide Uber drivers with greater financial security to ensure that life events, such as illness, injury or starting a family, do not cause financial stress.

The Partner Protection benefits package, provided by insurance organisation Axa, covers Uber drivers for certain events while they are using the app to complete jobs, as well as insuring drivers for specific life events or occasions when not logged in or using the app.

The benefits that apply when a driver is working for Uber include medical cover, which reimburses incurred expenses for medical costs not covered by normal public healthcare services such as physiotherapy, rehabilitation services and a doctor’s second opinion; an inconvenience lump sum payment if the driver is hospitalised for more than 24 hours; and a daily inconvenience payment for up to 30 days if a driver is unable to work due to an accident that happened while on a trip. Drivers’ dependants will also receive a lump sum payment if a driver dies while working for Uber, and funeral expenses will be reimbursed. Drivers are also able to receive a lump sum payment if they suffer a permanent disability as a result of an accident while working for Uber.

Specific ‘off-trip’ events that are covered by the benefits arrangement include a one-off maternity or paternity payment and a one-off payment if a driver has to attend jury service. In addition, drivers will receive severe sickness and injury compensation. This means affected drivers who are medically certified by a doctor as unfit to work over seven days will be eligible to receive a daily payment for up to a further 15 days.

Uber drivers must have completed 150 trips in the previous eight weeks to be eligible to receive the off-trip specific benefits and drivers who work for the organisation’s Uber Eats arm must have completed at least 30 deliveries in the past eight weeks to qualify.

Around 70,000 drivers and couriers in the UK are expected to benefit from the new Partner Protection package.

In a statement online, Uber UK said: “Uber 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.

“Drivers have told us that they enjoy the freedom of being their own boss and choosing if, when and where they drive. But drivers have also told us they want more security and peace of mind; life’s ups and downs such as an injury, sickness or having a baby should not come with all of the additional financial stress.

“Partner Protection is an important step in addressing some of the biggest concerns raised by our independent partners who rely on Uber. But the listening doesn’t stop here. We’ll continue to ensure that the voices of the drivers and couriers are heard as we take Uber forward together.”

James Farrar, chair of the drivers’ branch at Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), said: “It’s good to see Uber is reacting to the pressure piled on by the IWGB’s campaigns and legal action. 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 relied, it should stop fighting us in court and give the drivers the rights they are entitled to under the law.”