Uber gives drivers sick pay and parental leave

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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.

This 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 was allowed to continue operating in the city while it appealed against the decision.

Mr Khosrowshahi said that while Uber drivers enjoyed the flexibility of part-time work, they wanted protection against unforeseen events.

"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," he said.

Protection for drivers

Starting from today, 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.

The insurance coverage for accidents occurring during rides includes:

  • Up to £7,500 reimbursement for medical costs not covered by public healthcare services
  • A £1,000 payment if the driver is hospitalised
  • An inconvenience payment of £75 a day if the driver is unable to work
  • A £50,000 accidental death payment to dependents or heirs of the driver
  • Up to £6,000 funeral costs reimbursement
  • A payment of up to £50,000 if the driver is permanently disabled

In addition, Uber drivers and Uber Eats delivery couriers who have successfully completed over 150 rides for Uber in eight weeks prior to an off-duty event are also eligible to claim for:

  • Compensation for sickness or injury leading to more than seven consecutive days of inability to work
  • A one-off payment of £1,000 to cover maternity or paternity leave
  • A £500 payment to cover jury duty

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Analysis: Rory Cellan-Jones, technology correspondent

Ever since Dara Khosrowshahi took over as CEO last August he has tried to project an image of a kinder gentler Uber – in marked contrast to the "take no prisoners" approach of his predecessor Travis Kalanick.

That conciliatory style is evident in this move which Mr Khosrowshahi paints as Uber being "a better partner" and "a better listener".

Drivers are not going to get the kind of benefits they would enjoy as employees but there will be a little something to help them deal with life’s ups and downs. But this should all be seen in the light of the looming court hearing in late June over Uber’s licence to operate in London.

That is expected to hinge not on whether TfL was right to deny the firm a licence last year, but whether it has become a fit and proper business since then. Uber executives are hoping that its actions over the last six months will convince the court that the leopard has changed its spots.

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More security welcomed

Uber drivers in the UK have been campaigning for better rights for at least three years.

In October 2016, a tribunal ruled that two UK-based Uber drivers should be classed as staff, not self-employed workers, and entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the minimum wage.

A man holds a sign saying "Uber Unfair" at a protest in CaliforniaImage copyrightREUTERSImage captionUber drivers have been fighting for better working conditions since 2014

Uber appealed against the decision, arguing its drivers were self employed and were under no obligation to use its booking app, but in November 2017, the Employment Tribunal upheld its original decision that any Uber driver who had the Uber app switched on was working for the company under a "worker" contract.

In the US, Uber drivers continue to fight in court for the right to be classed as workers.

As of March, Uber drivers in the US can now opt into an insurance programme that covers all rides across the country.

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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