Uber is offering a more security for UK drivers who rely on its app to make a living, with an insurance plan that gives cover if they’re sick or injured.
Drivers who have completed at least 500 Uber journeys to date can pay £2 a week, or £104 a year, for the benefits package, which covers them if they’re sick, injured or on jury duty.
Here’s the full breakdown of benefits:
- Drivers can claim up to £2,000 if they’re unable to drive for two weeks or longer if sick or injured
- They can claim the same maximum amount if they lose out on income while doing jury duty
- They’re covered for up to £300 a week for a year if they have an accident while logged into Uber
- Drivers or their families can claim up to £50,000 if they die or are disabled while driving for Uber
Uber has partnered with IPSE, a representative body for freelancers in the UK, for the scheme. Anyone who signs up for the benefits package will also become IPSE members. Another perk is financial advice.
On the face of it, this is a positive move from Uber.
If you’re an Uber driver, the company classifies you as self-employed (even if employment tribunals don’t), and so you lose out on income if you’re sick or have an accident. And drivers have to earn not just a wage, but enough money to pay off car financing loans. If you’ve bought a £37,000 Mercedes to drive on Uber’s Exec platform, as one driver did, being sick gets expensive. Paying £104 a year gives you some additional security.
There’s also a possible benefit for Uber, and that’s getting its drivers to sign up with IPSE, which has defended the company in the past.
IPSE is not a trade union, but a paid membership association that lobbies the government on behalf of its members, among other things. There’s nothing stopping Uber drivers joining IPSE and, for example, an anti-Uber union like GMB, but it can’t hurt Uber to push its drivers towards a friendlier organisation. IPSE’s £2 a week also happens to be £1 cheaper than full-time GMB membership. It’s GMB, incidentally, which won a case against Uber last year to classify drivers as workers, meaning they’re entitled to rights like holiday pay.
The new insurance service is only available in the UK, where Uber is under severe political pressure to justify and perhaps alter its working practices.
MPs have criticised the company for not paying drivers “properly”, and for not guaranteeing them the National Living Wage. Frank Field, a Labour MP who is leading an investigation into the gig economy, recently described Uber’s contract with drivers as “gibberish.”